Interview with Carlos Rubens A. Alencar, head of the Fortaleza Brazil Stone Fair
The economic measures taken by US-President Donald Trump against Chinese imports to the US will not only affect China and his own country. Also, Brazil being the main supplier of granite to the US will feel the aftermath. Peter Becker from Stone-Ideas.com spoke with Carlos Rubens A. Alencar, head of the Fortaleza Brazil Stone Fair in the state of Ceará, about these consequences.
Will Trump’s measures against China effect Brazilian exports to the US?
Carlos Rubens: Long story short: they will create extremely favorable expectations for the increase of exports of Brazilian natural stones to the US. In detail: first, Brazil’s main export product to the US is slabs and Trump’s measures will raise our competitiveness in this field. Second: the American market has been a major buyer of artificial quartz surfaces, especially of Chinese origin, and here also our Brazilian producers may benefit. Third: the tariffs on that artificial quartz may also favor Brazil’s exports of natural quartzite. These stones are a trend on the US market and by the way, the most famous sorts like Taj Mahal, Perla Venata, Perla Santana, Avohai or Naica are all products from Ceará.
But has the Brazilian stone industry sufficient capacities for finished products to increase its deliveries to the US?
Carlos Rubens: The Brazilian industrial park has doubled in the last 5 years, and this was due to huge investments in equipment with diamond wire. Brazil currently has the largest park of this equipment worldwide, and as our internal construction market is still slow, we have enough capacities to meet any possible increase of demand without difficulty.
Parallel to an increase in finished products, wouldn’t Brazilian deliveries of raw blocks to China decline?
Carlos Rubens: Certainly there will be a significant drop in this field, but the gains from the possible increase in exports of intermediate and finished products to the US will compensate for this. Currently, the export of blocks to China corresponds to not more than approximately 13% of the total of our stone industry’s exports.
As to the world or the Brazilian stone sector, respectively – what are the most urgent fields of action?
Carlos Rubens: The key is mineral research. Artificial stones, which are strong competitors, offer the customer a product with low porosity, without water absorption, and resistant to abrasion. In view of this, we have to expand the offer of natural stones that have besides the aesthetic decorative aspects the appropriate technological characterization. Giorgio Conti, the former chairman of Red Graniti, used to say: ,Prima la materia’ which means that only with stones matching the demand there is a way to increase the market share. Brazil has a large geografic with lots of different stone area and this favors the expansion of the research.