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The miracle of São Gonçalo

The city of fishermen and farmers grows eleven times more than São Paulo and attracts foreigners in search of fast money.

By Gabriel Castro and Kalleo Coura, from São Gonçalo do Amarante (CE)

The Italian Sebastiano di Ruocco traded Turin for Fortaleza during the beginning of the economic crisis in Europe, still in 2009. Professional of the immobilary market, he believed that he would make more money in Brazil. And he was right. But profits only increased significantly when Sebastiano found a Brazilian partner and started investing in the purchase of land in São Gonçalo do Amarante (CE) in 2011. He has nothing to complain about: "I will not leave here in less than four or five years," he says.

Sebastiano and his Brazilian partner were agile in realizing the potential of valorization of the region around the Port of Pecém, an area of ​​native vegetation that little by little gives way to what will be a great industrial hub. At the time, they even paid 16 cents per square meter on a plot of land. Few real estate companies had noticed the opportunity that had opened up.

In fact, it is difficult to keep pace with growth in São Gonçalo do Amarante. Between 2005 and 2011, the GDP of the city of farmers and fishermen increased at a speed eleven times superior to the one from the city of São Paulo. The main driver of this growth was the construction of Pecem´s Steel Plant Company (CSP) - a joint venture between Vale and South Korea's Dongkuk and Posco -, which was installed in the municipality thanks to the expansion of the port and the creation of an Export Processing Zone (ZPE), the first to operate in the country.

"It is an industrial district that is encouraged and focused on exports," says César Ribeiro, president of ZPE Ceará. "The installed industries have total exemption from the import tax and other three federal taxes." When ready, by the end of 2015, the plant will produce every minute 5.7 tons of steel slabs that will be mainly destined to the Asian market.

In addition, another seventeen industries were also attracted by the port, but are installing themselves in other areas of the municipality. In July, Crusoe Foods, a subsidiary of Spain's Jealsa, will start cantering 25 tonnes of sardines and tuna per day in the Siupé district. Another highlight is the Inter-American Company of Aerospace Technology, which will invest 450 million reais in a helicopter factory.

The Pecém terminal is important not only for exporting companies, but also for factories that use raw materials from abroad. That is why, in five years, many of the ubiquitous carnaúbas trees of São Gonçalo do Amarante should give way to industrial sheds.



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