A Partnership of Success
As a result of Apex-Brasil’s strategic support in export promotion, the stone sector has corresponded, demonstrating business competence to face the enormous challenges in the international market, generating results that translate into growing net trade revenue for the country, in such a manner that it has maintained growth rates almost always above those of general Brazilian exports, as well as elevated share in the surplus of these general exports. In the same sense, one cannot dissociate the action of Apex-Brasil from the main qualitative and quantitative advances recorded for the stone sector, achieved as of the signing of the ABIROCHAS agreement.
Since 1999, the resources taken in under the agreement have contributed to exports, which totalled almost US$ 11.3 billion through 2013, as well has determined the generation of at least 50 thousand direct jobs. Considering the total resources contributed by Apex-Brasil from 1999 to 2013, in the face of exports made and jobs generated by the same in the period, for each R$ 1 invested, US$ 282.5 in exports were generated. In the same manner, for every R$ 800 in investment by Apex-Brasil, the sector corresponded with the generation of one direct job.
Around 180 different companies, among miners, processors and marble plants, the latter mainly integrated into export consortiums, were benefited with funds from the agreement for participation in diverse events. Because they gather all the products and services of the production chain, international fairs in the dimension stone segment are considered the best events for trade promotion by exporting companies. Thus, they carried greater weight in Apex-Brasil’s investments. All the formal performance indicators are positive adopted by Apex-Brasil for evaluation of the Sectoral ABIROCHAS Project in 2013, pointing out the growth in the total value of exports, growth in exports by company and decentralization of export companies. The outstanding performance of the companies supported by the Apex-Brasil/ABIROCHAS agreement is evident, compared to those companies still not supported by it, albeit because the supported companies answer for the greater part of Brazilian exports in the stone sector.
Additionally, with funds from the agreement, it was also possible to produce the book “Ornamental Stones in the 21st Century”, today a benchmark for the dimension stone sector in Brazil; the production of the first Brazilian Dimension Stone Catalogue, which has proven to be an important instrument in trade promotion; and disclosure of the Stone Covering Application Guide, of great use by builders, specifiers and opinion formers. More recently, and of equal importance, the branding project has been concluded, elaborated for Brazilian dimension stones, which, through the brand “Brasil Original Stones”, has already redirected the presentation concepts and disclosure of the materials and products sold on the export market.
Exports require competitive adjustments
The expressive increment in our exports was fundamental to preserve the stone sector in a Brazilian civil construction industry in recession, which, with some oscillations, persisted from the 1990s to mid-2000s. Export market adaptation provided conditions for Brazilian companies to face the significant strengthening of demand in the domestic market, observed from the second half of the last decade to present.
This export increment, even if only partially destined for the sale of blocks, also contributed to the preservation of the production chain in the quarrying and processing segments, which would have been largely deactivated with only domestic market demand in place. It can be affirmed that most of the recent conquests of the Brazilian dimension stone sector has been linked to exports, which required rigorous operational and commercial adjustments by our companies.
No less important, export market demand required new materials to continuously be placed in production, with a highlight for the so-called exotic stones, with high added value, which today make up the main group of Brazilian export products. As a result of this process, Brazil has become known for its exceptional “geo-diversity”, have placed on the international market over the last ten years a larger variety of materials than Europe has over than last 500 years.
Due to the excellent performance and greater involvement in international and national fairs, technical events held and greater involvement in the academic field, dimensions stones have increasingly found greater visibility with public institutions, presently figuring as the 5th main mineral resource exported by Brazil (excluding oil and gas), after iron ore, gold bar, Ferro-niobium and copper ore.
Signals by the Federal Government have been very clear as to the necessity of value aggregation to Brazilian products sold in the international market, which, for the stones sector, represents (through Apex-Brasil) receiving funds focused on processed stone exports, both finished and semi-finished.
It is important to mention the stone sectors social and economic vocation, as an agent of job generation, interior development, generator of exchange and small business fomentation. Also important is the perception that such attributes are only real when verticalization of the sector’s activities exists, with mining and processing of its raw materials, as well as the possibility of forming local production arrangements.