Soccer networking: Brazil's plan to boost exports during World Cup
By Esteban Israel
SAO PAULO May 16 (Reuters) - Many Brazilians think the upcoming soccer World Cup is a waste of money, but Apex, the nation's export agency, says it can use the tournament to get more than $3 billion in new contracts for local businesses.
To do so, Apex has invited more than 2,300 foreign businessmen to come to Brazil, watch a game in a VIP lounge and, hopefully, sign new deals.
A pilot program during a World Cup warm-up tournament last year, when 900 businessmen were invited, resulted in $1.8 billion in new export deals and $1.2 billion in foreign direct investment, according to Apex.
"There will be meetings and visits to factories," said Apex Business Director Ricardo Santana. "Taking your client to a match will be the icing on the cake.
"We believe those relaxing moments are ideal for a negotiation to succeed."
If successful, the program could end up being one of the few positive developments of a multibillion-dollar sporting event that many Brazilians fear will do little to bolster their struggling economy and improve their lives.
A report issued earlier this year by Moody's said the benefits of the June 12-July 13 event would be short-lived and represent just a fraction of Brazil's annual economic activity.
The Apex initiative comes as Brazil's trade surplus is dwindling on weakening global demand for the nation's commodities exports. Continuación...