Brazilian agriculture minister hails multibillion-dollar trade bond with Saudi Arabia

Delegates gather on Tuesday during the opening of the Saudi-Brazilian Agricultural Business Forum at CSC in Riyadh. (AN photo/Ahmed Fathi)
Updated 18 September 2019

Brazilian agriculture minister hails multibillion-dollar trade bond with Saudi Arabia

  • Around 96 percent of total Saudi exports to Brazil were in crude oil and other items including fertilizers

RIYADH: Brazil’s agriculture minister on Tuesday hailed the multibillion-dollar trade bond between her country and Saudi Arabia and vowed to explore new export opportunities.

During a visit to Riyadh as part of a tour of Arab states, Tereza Cristina, the Brazilian minister of agriculture, livestock and supply, pledged to further boost economic relations with the Kingdom.

Speaking to Arab News at the Saudi-Brazilian Agricultural Business Forum held at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), Cristina said the Kingdom was a major economic partner for Brazil in the Middle East, especially in the agricultural sector, and stressed the need to diversify opportunities.

“This is my first visit to the Kingdom. There is a long relationship between the two countries and enhancing relations in trade is important.”

According to Cristina, Saudi Arabia was the seventh-biggest importer of Brazilian agricultural products. “We can diversify our exports to the Kingdom, limited not only to meat, beef, poultry, and sugar but also other products,” she added.

The minister said that during her visit her country had agreed with Saudi authorities to first-time exports of Brazilian nuts, several fruits, and egg products.

“I am here to speak with the Saudi authorities about the new government in Brazil led by President Jair Bolsonaro, how the new system is working and what we can offer in very frank, honest and transparent relations between the two countries.”

She pointed out that Bolsonaro would be visiting Saudi Arabia for the Future Investment Initiative (FII 2019) forum being held in Riyadh in October.

FASTFACTS

• Bilateral trade between Brazil and Saudi Arabia had reached $2.95 billion (SR11.07 billion) by the end of August 2019.

• Brazil’s top 10 product groups of exports to the Kingdom were poultry, sugar, oil seeds and derivatives, beef, armaments, cereals, ores, wood and steel products and machinery.

Bilateral trade between Brazil and Saudi Arabia had reached $2.95 billion (SR11.07 billion) by the end of August 2019, she said, around a 2 percent increase on the same period in 2018, valued at $2.89 billion. Brazilian exports made up $1.35 billion of the figure with Saudi sales to Brazil hitting $1.6 billion.

Brazil’s top 10 product groups of exports to the Kingdom were poultry, sugar, oil seeds and derivatives, beef, armaments, cereals, ores, wood and steel products, and machinery.

Around 96 percent of total Saudi exports to Brazil were in crude oil. Other items during 2018 were fertilizers, plastic and aluminum products, and chemicals.

According to the Brazilian embassy, the South American country’s agricultural and livestock sector products represented 84 percent ($1.76 billion) of the total value of its exports to Saudi in 2018.

Addressing the agricultural forum, which was also attended by Khaled Al-Aboudi, managing director of the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co. (SALIC), Christina pointed to possible future export openings for products such as dairy and fresh fruit.

While the Kingdom sought to achieve food security, Brazil had many opportunities in the agricultural field, she added.




Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply Tereza Cristina at the Saudi-Brazilian Agricultural Business Forum in Riyadh. (AN photo/Ahmed Fathi)

Al-Aboudi said that he was looking forward to further cooperation between the two countries in the agriculture, food and livestock sectors. He added that the meeting offered the chance to strengthen economic ties through developing joint investments and exchanging information on investment opportunities.

Saudi Arabia was the second stop on the minister’s tour of Arab countries which began in Egypt and will take in Kuwait and the UAE.

In Riyadh, Cristina also held a meeting with the Saudi Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Mansour H. Al-Mushaiti and was told that the Kingdom needed fodder for animal feed, which Brazil could supply.

She also met with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority CEO Hisham bin Saad Al-Jadhey and discussed issues of mutual interest.

On the fires that have been raging in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, Cristina told Arab News: “Yes, there is a problem, but the whole issue has been widely exaggerated and blown out of proportion. It’s a very complex issue and the Brazilian government is taking measures to control it and address the problems.

“Right now, it is a dry season in the Amazon region, which is a season when we see fire incident naturally,” she added.


LA Italian eatery Amadeo delights the palate in Riyadh Season pop-up

Updated 15 December 2019

LA Italian eatery Amadeo delights the palate in Riyadh Season pop-up

  • Despite minor setbacks he faced while setting up, Vietina considers the experience to be a positive one

RIYADH: Renowned Italian restaurant Amadeo has opened up in Al-Murabba for Riyadh Season. 

The pop-up has started brightly, and head chef Gianni Vietina invited Arab News to sample the menu and chat about his experience.

Vietina, in Saudi Arabia for the first time, said that he loved the location he had set up in, and was very happy to be opening up in the Kingdom. 

“The location is gorgeous. At night, with all the lights on, the music going, it’s very nice.”

Despite minor setbacks he faced while setting up, Vietina considers the experience to be a positive one and that the response was even better than he had expected. 

“Like anything new, you have quests, you have problems. Up to now, we’re doing pretty good. We are up and running. We’re comfortable now, which is a shame as we’re leaving pretty soon,” he said.

He added that he would repeat the experience in a heartbeat if he could: “They were nice enough to ask me to stay in Saudi a little longer, but I can’t. I need to go back home. But I would love to come back.”

He said that while he was not planning to open up a permanent restaurant in Saudi Arabia, he would not rule it out completely.  “I’ve been offered options, and friends have offered to show me locations while I’m here, but I can’t do it right now, I just opened a new restaurant two months ago,” he said.

“I chose the dishes that I know that most of the Saudis that visit my restaurant in Los Angeles like.”

Gianni Vietina, Head chef of Amadeo

The pop-up’s menu contains most of what the original restaurant offers, including his ever-popular penne amadeo and spaghetti bolognese, with the chefs using a combination of imported and locally sourced ingredients. 

“I chose the dishes that I know that most of the Saudis that visit my restaurant in Los Angeles like,” he told Arab News.

For the pop-up, Vietina has stuck to using halal and alcohol-free ingredients. 

“It was challenging at the beginning. But the bolognese at Amadeo doesn’t contain pork, and I realized after we tried cooking without wine that almost nothing changed. I actually prefer it,” he said.

Amadeo is a favorite of Saudis visiting Los Angeles, with Vietina going so far as to describe the restaurant as a “Little Riyadh” on most evenings between July and September. 

He even recognizes some of the customers who have come into the Riyadh pop-up, and always stops over to greet them.

Upon sampling the menu, it’s easy to see why the food at Amadeo has remained popular all these years. 

The eggplant parmigiana is a perfect blend of crusty cheese and silky smooth eggplant, with hints of basil and rosemary. 

The bolognese is rich, meaty and decadent, without being too heavy and greasy. And the penne Amadeo, which Vietina has been eating since his childhood, is a timeless classic of crushed tomato, basil, finished off with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano for a creamy, rich flavor.