By HUSNIYE GUNGOR
How has trade between Turkey and Brazil developed in the last 10 years? Can you give figures, numbers, and growth rates?
Bilateral trade has grown remarkably over the past 10 years. The trade flow between Brazil and Turkiye totaled USD 4.4bn in 2021, almost doubling the figure recorded in 2011 (USD 2.4bn), despite the pandemic, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Economy. Turkiye was the 18th destination for Brazilian exports and the 31st origin of imports made by Brazil in 2021. Brazil is Turkiye’s largest trading partner in Latin America, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. Our trade with Turkiye in 2021 was equivalent to approximately 35% of Turkiye’s entire trade flow with the region. It’s expressive data, but both our countries and business communities can – and must – do much better!
What does Turkey import from Brazil and export to Brazil?
In 2021, the main products exported by Brazil to Turkiye were soybeans (USD 1.01bn; 32% of the Brazil’s exports to Turkiye), iron ore and its concentrates (USD 575m, 18%), raw cotton (USD 471m; 15%), unroasted coffee (USD 156m; 4.9%) and cellulose (USD 124m, 3,9%).
According to Brazilian Ministry of Economy data, the main products imported by Brazil from Turkiye in 2021 were iron and steel bars, bars, angles and profiles (USD 260m; 20% of the Turkish exports to Brazil); salts and peroxosalts of inorganic acids and metals (USD 103m; 8.1%), non-electric engines and machines and their parts (USD 101m; 7.9%), parts and accessories for automotive vehicles (USD 98.7m; 7.7%) and other products from the manufacturing industry (USD 58.3m; 4.6%).
How many Brazilian companies have operations in Türkiye? Which sectors stand out in FDI figures?
We do not have an all-encompassing total for the number of Brazilian companies established in Turkiye, but according to a survey carried out by the Embassy’s Trade Promotion Section, there are four companies installed in Turkiye with expressive operations, in the animal protein (poultry) sector, in the cement sector, in the refrigeration equipment sector and in the auto parts sector, which combined generate around 10,000 direct jobs. Other than that, we believe that there are a good number of small companies owned by Brazilian citizens residing in Turkiye, mainly in the tourism sector.
How many Turkish companies operate in Brazil? Have you observed an increase in Turkish capital in Brazil lately? If so, would you please explain why?
We are aware of an important investment by a company in the petrochemical sector in Brazil and, recently, we were informed that a company from Istanbul in the energy generation sector won a bid in Brazil and should be starting activities in Rio de Janeiro by mid-year. In addition, Turkish Airlines always has a very important operation in Brazil, with daily flights between Istanbul and São Paulo.
I believe that the Brazilian market is always attractive for companies that seek opportunities and want to internationalize. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world in terms of territory, it has the sixth largest population (about 215 million inhabitants), is the largest economy in Latin America by far and one of the largest in the world, just to contextualize the country in terms of size. In addition, Brazil has been going through a period of pro-market economic reforms and fiscal consolidation in recent years, which has created the foundations for the country’s sustained economic growth.
What are the potential new areas in which the two countries can cooperate? Which sectors have potential for increasing bilateral trade?
I think there is potential for cooperation in a multitude of economic areas. However, there are some areas which naturally find themselves prioritized, in particular the defense industry and health sectors. Both Brazil and Turkiye have achieved remarkable levels of local development in these two areas and there is a desire and space for further cooperation between the countries. I want to highlight that on March 25, Brazil and Turkiye signed a Cooperation Agreement for the defense industry, which guarantees appropriate conditions for cooperation in research, development, production, and modernization of the sector.
Obviously, both countries are also tourist powerhouses and I believe that both would have a lot to gain from cooperating in this area.
I also must mention agribusiness. Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of grains, meat, coffee, and sugar, among other products, and Turkiye is a large market. Much of the growth in our bilateral trade was due to agribusiness, a sector whose bilateral trade flows grew by around 150% in the last five years and, in 2021, accounted for almost half of the trade between our countries. I’m sure there is a lot of potential for growth in this area, considering that Brazilian agriculture grows year after year.
What type of activities does the Brazilian Embassy oversee to increase bilateral trade and deepen economic relations?
As agreed with Turkish authorities, the distance between the countries cannot be seen as an obstacle to the growth of economic relations, but rather an opportunity for the development of complementary capacities in each other regions. Our objective is to promote mutual knowledge between business people. And we have a very active Trade Promotion Section at the Embassy to advance that goal. We also seek, as I always say to businessmen, to work together with the Turkish government to remove any obstacles to their activities, in Brazil or here.
Still in relation to the expansion of mutual knowledge between the countries, there is currently a coincidence of important commemorative dates for Brazil and Turkiye. In 2022, Brazil celebrates the bicentennial of its’ independence and, in 2023, Turkiye celebrates a century since the beginning of the Republic. For our part, we are planning a series of cultural activities not only in Ankara, but also in Istanbul, Izmir and other major cities, to mark this date and put Brazil in the spotlight for our Turkish friends.
I also believe that high-level visits play a key role in this process and, therefore, I want to highlight the important visit of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Brazil, scheduled for next week (April 25).
Should we expect any economic missions from or to Brazil in the near term for potential cooperation?
We expect business missions to take place again, considering that the pandemic indicators have improved significantly in Türkiye and Brazil. In the context of Foreign Minister Cavusoglu’s visit to Brazil, we are considering reconvening the Brazil-Türkiye Joint Commission on Economic, Commercial and Industrial Cooperation. We are working towards increasing awareness in the private sector in Brazil of the opportunities available in Turkiye. Also, of course, we would like Turkish business community to resume their trips to Brazil!
What is the most important common asset between the two countries?
Both Brazil and Turkiye are consolidated, vibrant developing democracies with young populations facing common challenges in a world that still has to update its structures to allow for the adequate and correct insertion of our people, culture and products in the global arena. I would say that the shared perspective through which our countries must face current challenges, be they related to climate change, pandemics or international peace and security is perhaps our greatest shared asset.
How would you describe Turkey’s current investment environment to a potential investor?
I would say that Turkiye, like Brazil, is a country full of business opportunities, with a large and young population, a privileged location, important development on economic growth in recent decades and an infrastructure to be envied. It is a very significant market that, I’m sure, is always on the radar of the Brazilian business community.
Which local business NGOs or institutions does the Brazilian Embassy collaborate with in order to guide and assist Brazilian companies in their involvement in the Turkish market?
We always talk with Brazilian companies present in Turkiye, as well as with Turkish business associations such as the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), the Ankara Chamber of Trade (ATO), and other institutions. In the defense area, in particular, we maintain a very good relationship with the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), which is the Turkish party to the Defense Industry Cooperation Agreement that was signed recently.
What is your main agenda currently, as the Brazilian Embassy?
I want to reinforce the importance of relaunching the bilateral agenda considering the progressive post-pandemic normalization. In this context, as I mentioned earlier, we are fortunate to have two very important celebrations for our countries, the bicentennial of Brazil’s Independence in 2022 and the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey in 2023. Our countries are strategic partners, and, throughout these two years, I want the celebrations that will be held here in Turkiye and Brazil to stimulate concrete results for our people, with an increase in trade, tourism, investment and cooperation in the most diverse areas.