Building a Bridge between Brazil and Turkey
I love Latin American countries and their people and encourage companies to do business there. Starting or doing a business in a foreign land might be intimidating as it brings risks. Thankfully, there are some facilitator organizations who provide help on this. I made an interview with someone from such an organization. Beatriz Fonseca, who is the president of the Brazilian Turkish Chamber of Commerce, Tourism and Culture, kindly answered my questions on Brazil-Turkey relations. Happy reading!
You run the Brazilian Turkish Chamber of Commerce, Tourism and Culture as president. Would you like to tell us about your organization, about what you do and the story behind it? I guess that you have also some personal or academic interest in Turkey, is that right?
Sure. The Chamber was created in 2014 with the main propose to be a bridge between Brazil and Turkey. We had the support of the Turkish Consulate in Sao Paolo and the Consulate of Brazil in Istanbul. Our activities consist in improve Brazilian-Turkish relations in different aspects; we help companies interested in doing business, we support projects in tourism, we promote the 2 cultures to bring the countries closer and so on. I've always been very interested in Turkey and its history, politics and international relevance. I published an article about Turkey in the European Union, which is my speciality. I've studied the country very deeply before taking this challenge as the president of the chamber and I truly believe in Turkish potential.
What do you think about current situation of Brazil-Turkey relations regarding business and cultural aspects? Do you have some data to share?
I usually defend that the international trade reflects political dynamics between the countries. Brazil and Turkey are a very good example in this sense. The governments need to coordinate their efforts so the countries could identify each other as an important partner. Actually, Brazil and Turkey are focused on regional agreements in Mercosul and European Union, respectively, but the current international system structure requires alternative partners. This relation has a lot to be explored in business and cultural aspects, but it faces challenges as the lack of information and geographical distance. In 2015, for example, Brazilian exports to Turkey increased only 2% after achieving 37% in the previous year. On the other side, Turkish exports to Brazil continue to decline, decreasing 23% in 2014 and 36% in 2015.
I can say that Turkish people really know very little about Brazil. Maybe Brazilian people also know Turkey very little. You know both markets and can give some valuable insights for business people. In this respect, would you mind to comment on what might be interesting for Turkish business people in Brazil and for Brazilian business people in Turkey? For example, in which industries more possibly companies can cooperate, in other words, where cooperation possibilities and opportunities are located?
You're totally right. Brazilian people's knowledge about Turkey is limited to touristic trips and Turkish soap operas, a huge success here. I know Brazil is mainly recognized as the soccer and beach country. In terms of business, Brazilian people have much to learn about Turkey and vice versa. We have a lot to exchange between these 2 countries. Turkish industry is very mature especially in automobile parts and civil engineering, which are important sectors in Brazil. Brazil has its agricultural power and sectors that already have international highlight such as oil & gas and beauty. Recently, Brazilian government launched the Exports National Plan, an initiative to improve foreign trade with alternative partners and Turkey is one of the 32 countries included in this report. This is a huge opportunity to solve the information issue and move on to a different stage in their relationship. As I said before, it all depends on political initiative in order to develop commercial agreements in the key sectors.
Thank you very much for sharing your opinions with us.Thank you for the interview. It's always a pleasure to talk about and contribute to Brazilian Turkish relations.