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Brazil aims to increase fresh produce export volumes to world markets

The Brazilian fruit industry relished last week's informal gathering by way of a barbeque with the country's President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula Da Silva and vice president and key ministers. According to Luiz Roberto Barcelos, Abrafrutas director and known as the Brazil's 'Melon King' "Last Tuesday we were received by President Lula Da Silva to talk about our problems and what was needed to increase our exports even more. We from the fresh fruit are the first sector to meet with the President. The idea was to give him four to five items to solve immediately."

Photo Abrafrutas: The producers and members of Brazil's Abrafrutas with the country's President Lula Da Silva.

Brazil's fresh produce industry body Abrafrutas stated that while the general fresh fruit trade from Brazil is increasing reached with them reaching record exports of $1.26 billion. "It is the first time we reached this figure. Year by year we are increasing or export volume. We highlighted the opening of new markets with new fruit coming to trade. We have the support from the Government and Abrafrutas."

"The first issue we brought to the President is on ePhyto, which we still don't have. The physical paper work takes a lot of time. Sometimes vessel arrive in Europe then the container documents are lost. Secondly the flights from Asia to the North of Brazil brings a phytosanitary risk, we should not allow that product inside the country. We talked about the biologicals as well. We also want the law around taxes to be amended to make it cheaper for people. We want seasonal labour to remain in the social program even if they are temporarily employed. These are things the Federal government can solve, the President promised to take care of this," explains Roberto Barcelos.

He says Brazil exports a small percentage of the fresh produce that the country produces. "Brazil is third biggest fresh produce producer after China and India with less than 3% going for exports. We know how to export. The challenge here is to create an export mentality. There's only a few companies who look to the external market. There is huge potential to expand the volume. We have the fruit, the problem is to create the appetite to export."

Roberto Barcelos says they need a Free trade agreement between Mercusor and the EU, "where our fruit pays 10% duty. Our other South American competitor countries have 0% tariffs and our grapes pay 14% and from Peru it is 0%. Our melons face a 9% tariff with others from Central America have much lower tariffs. We are asking for this free trade agreement. When we talk about fresh fruit, there's many local producers. We are in the Southern Hemisphere and provide counter seasonal fruit to the North," he states.

He is the ex-President of Abrafrutas, and now serves as the Institutional Director who, manages relationship with politicians and government officials in Brazil's capital city. The recent heavy rains in Brazil, especially in the North east of Brazil is not high risk for the melon and grapes and even mangoes, because it is not the high season for these fruit says Roberto Barcelos. "We have much more rain than forecasted during a time of El Nino where they said we will not have rain, but unfortunately we have a lot of rain. A lot of rain does bring some damage in melons and mangos, but not for other fruit."

For more information:
Luiz Roberto Barcelos
Tel: +55 85 9199-9415