Message of Brazilian Ambassador to Switzerland

11/04/2007
Eduardo dos Santos

Annual Report 2006; pag. 35

A renewed partnership

I would like to thank the Swiss-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce for kindly asking me to write some lines for its Annual Report. One month before beginning my work as Ambassador in Bern in September 2006,

I had the opportunity to have a first contact with SWISSCAM during the visit of Mr. Philippe Nell, Head of the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs for the Americas (SECO). Mr. Giambatista Mondada, the Swiss General Consul for Brazil, offered his home for the event, where I had the chance to meet representatives of several Brazilian and Swiss companies.

I am glad to see that the relationship between Brazil and Switzerland keeps on improving. SWISSCAM’s members are constantly being updated on our countries’ trade and investment information. As a sign of the positive performance marking our bilateral relations, I would like to point out the increasing dialog between our governments, the new projects and initiatives implemented by both of them, and the promises of more solid cooperation in the future.

In January, the Brazilian president, Mr. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was in Davos to attend the World Economic Forum. Minister Celso Amorim and other government authorities also attended the internationally recognized forum. The Brazilian minister participated in a special meeting chaired by the Swiss Federal Counselor, Doris Leuthard, addressing the issue of advancing multilateral commercial negotiations. Another important meeting, attended by President Lula, among others, was the Business Interaction Group on Brazil (BIG), where several countries, including Brazil and Switzerland, were represented by the presidents of different companies from the industrial and financial sectors.

In February, the visit of the Swiss Federal Counselor, Doris Leuthard, to Brazil was also a special moment for both countries. During her visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed setting up the Brazil-Switzerland Mixed Commission for Commercial and Economic Relations. This bilateral forum was created to address the need to set up an institutional dialog channel to boost areas of common interest, to tackle trade and investment issues as well as scientific and technological cooperation. Thus, the Mixed Commission’s main objective is to facilitate the coordination and convergence of both countries’ mutual interests, especially involving the private sector. Another important event on the agenda of the Swiss Counselor during her visit was the inauguration of Nestlé’s plant in Feira de Santana, Bahia, which the Brazilian president also attended.

Still in a spirit of cooperation, the Brazilian Embassy in Bern has been providing support to the recently established partnership between the Integrated Development Institute (Instituto de Desenvolvimento Integrado - INDI), based in the state of Minas Gerais, and the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (SCEM), from Neuchâtel. Soon after I took over my position in Bern, we had the visit of Mr. Reginaldo Arcuri, president of INDI. As a result of Mr. Aucuri’s visit, the Swiss Ambassador to Brazil, Rudolf Bärfuss, and I signed an agreement showing both governments’ acknowledgement of the relevance of a partnership of cooperation between INDI and SCEM, whose main objective is to build a nanotechnology center and a microsystems plant in Brazil. Our countries’ need to set up cooperation efforts in the economic, technological and foreign trade spheres was addressed by this agreement, which was also supported by the Sao Paulo Swiss Business Hub, part of OSEC (Business Network Switzerland).

During these first few months of my term in Switzerland, I have been working more closely with entrepreneurs doing business with Brazil. In November 2006, I accepted OSEC’s invitation to participate in a seminar gathering representives of the pharmaceutical, medical and dental equipment sectors, as well as the cosmetics segment in which Brazilian professionals were also present. Concurrently, I visited the major Swiss companies with investments in Brazil, among which were, Nestlé, ABB (Asea Brown Boveri), Bühler AG, and also the Latin American Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland, based in Bern, whose president is Richard Friedl.

I have dedicated special attention to the possibility of setting up an agreement of cooperation between our countries for the development of renewable energy projects. The Embassy in Bern has been exchanging information with the relevant Swiss authorities and agencies, particularly seeking to show the evolution of Brazil’s experience in producing and exporting biofuels.

I would like to highlight Ambassador Bärfuss’ work towards the same objective in Brazil. It is worth mentioning his article “Brazil – a sustainable development partner for introducing the Brazilian bio-ethanol in Switzerland” written for the foreign policy magazine Politorbis, published by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Furthermore, I believe Switzerland, one of Brazil’s traditional partners, can greatly contribute to the Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento (PAC), recently launched by President Lula, especially with regards to public-private partnerships formed to carry out infrastructure projects, a field in which Swiss excellence has also been proved. This is another area where we could enhance our partnership.

But the existing bond between Switzerland and Brazil is not based only on trade and economic relations. Our Embassy in Bern has also been working to promote culture. We have organized and supported a number of relevant events, among which, I would like to mention the “Brazilian Amazon” exhibition, which premiered at the Lausanne Convention Center in September 2006; the Bern Chamber Orchestra (Camerata Bern) concert featuring “A musical trip around South America” in November; the “Meeting Oscar Niemeyer” exhibition held in Basel in January 2007; and the recital of Sylvia Thereza, the talented new generation Brazilian pianist, at the Bern Conservatory in the same month.

In addition to the rich and solid relationship between Brazil and Switzerland, both countries are interested in strengthening the countries’ political dialog. Both Embassies have been regularly in contact with one another. Our countries have also been collaborating in international forums, an important aspect that tends to gain more relevance with the revamping of the United Nations and the launch of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round. This collaboration shows that Brazil values Switzerland, not only as an economic, investment, trade and technological cooperation partner, but also as a political liaison, with whom we share our vision concerning peace, human rights, the environment, development challenges, and the fight against hunger and poverty.

In a nutshell, Brazil and Switzerland have expanded their relationship agenda, making me believe our countries will keep on strengthening their relations in the future.