NNA – Minister of Trade and Economy, Dr. Alain Hakim, on Tuesday opened the first meeting between the joint Lebanese committee and the countries of the Mercosur at the Economic and Social Council, within the framework of economic diplomacy and the promotion of relations with Mercosur countries, which the Ministry of Economy and Commerce deems essential in promoting foreign trade.
Brazilian Ambassador to Lebanon, Jorge Geraldo Kadri, delivered a word on behalf of the Mercosur organization, in which he stressed that the Mercosur organization attached great importance to its relationship with Lebanon.
“We start with Lebanon today our first negotiation in the economic field. We had previously discussed the matter with Minister Gebran Bassil who honoured us at the Mercosur summit, where we stressed the need for cooperation at the level of foreign economic and trade affairs with Lebanon,” Kadri said.
He added: “We focus on the need to promote trade, as well as cultural, social and tourist relations because of the large Lebanese community which goes back to the nineteenth century. There are 10 million descendants of Lebanese origin in Brazil and two million in Argentina and Paraguay. Lebanese expatriates are flourishing in our communities, especially in the fields of trade and economy.”
“Trade relations between Lebanon and other South American countries play an important role and we are here today to sign a memorandum of understanding in the areas of free trade because we want to increase exchange with Lebanon,” the Brazilian diplomat explained, describing Lebanon as an active partner in tourism and construction, as well as a starting point to the Near East and Gulf region.
In turn, Minister Hakim delivered a word in which he said: “I first of all would like to welcome the delegation and to wish you a pleasant stay in your second country Lebanon.
Our meeting today is the result of the continued efforts between the two sides and its purpose is to build on the existing linkages and develop them for the benefit of the two parties.
We all know that the relation between Lebanon and the Mercosur members is not new for this area has hosted the majority of Lebanese emigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. In fact, out of the 18 million Lebanese abroad, at least 10 million live in the Mercosur area, and big part of it till today, maintain strong human ties with Lebanon.
As such, it has become a priority for Lebanon to build on these relations and strengthen cooperation between the two sides in various areas especially that Lebanon’s wide reaching diaspora can play a strong networking role by acting as a main intermediary, especially for the Lebanon – Mercosur business community.
Opportunities to develop and enhance bilateral cooperation between our countries are many, and I believe that the Memorandum of Understanding on trade and economic cooperation that was signed earlier between Mercosur and the Republic of Lebanon provides a great base to reinforce and promote the expansion of trade and economic relations.
We need to build on this MoU and hopefully during this meeting we would be able to establish common grounds to promote the development of trade and investments and to commit to further strengthen and diversify trade among our countries.
I do believe that the Lebanese diaspora will play a big role in enhancing investments in Lebanon! In fact they have the power and we shall create the will because our economy is a free economy and we are reinforcing the intellectual property control which is an essential tool to protect investors especially in the high-tech domain.
I trust that the process will be quick and fruitful and that the joint committee that will be formed will be able to unleash the great interred potentials.
I am also confident that the negotiations will shed the light on the mechanisms that will allow the further development of economic, social and trade aspects.
Once again, I would like to welcome you all in Lebanon and I’m looking forward to see the outcomes of today’s discussions develop into concrete results.”