Message of Brazilian Ambassador to Switzerland

01/04/2011
Maria Stela Pompeu Brasil Frota

Annual Report 2010; pag. 29

It is always a pleasure to respond to an invitation from the Swiss-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce to write an article on Brazil-Switzerland relations for its annual report/membership directory, which gives me a fine opportunity to briefly review the Brazilian Embassy in Berne's recent involvement in efforts to boost our bilateral economic and trade relations.

For well-known reasons that have already been celebrated, being involved with the 2011 publication is even more exciting than in previous years. In 2010, despite the very different economic, social, political and cultural characteristics of the two countries, it was reassuring to see the positive results of economic policy in Brazil and Switzerland, in contexts that were also very different. Both are seen as being among the few "exceptions" amidst the continuing difficulties still besetting most countries, especially in Europe, due to the effects of the global crisis that broke out in 2008. We were particularly pleased to see better-than-expected employment and GDP growth rates last year, in both Brazil and Switzerland.

Because of this success, however, it is curious to note that the two countries have the same immediate concern in terms of their economic objectives, namely an overvalued currency. The exchange-rates of both the Brazilian real and the Swiss franc are very high. Despite the trade-balance issues that may arise from this factor, combined with others, both countries have posted vigorous foreign trade numbers. Brazil's total exports grew 32% in 2010 to a total of US$ 201.9 billion, while its imports rose 42% to US$ 181.6 billion.

Bilateral trade between Brazil and Switzerland reached US$ 4.353 billion against 2009's 3.171 billion, thus showing an increase of 26%, or US$ 1.182 billion. Brazil's exports to Switzerland rose 33.5% to US$ 1.477 billion. Imports of Swiss products to Brazil rose 39.50% to US$ 2.876 billion. Brazil's bilateral trade with Switzerland therefore grew in the same measure as its total foreign trade.

On looking at Brazil's exports to Switzerland in 2010 from the added-value angle, we may take most satisfaction from the performance of manufactured goods. The share of semi-manufactured items rose 40.31% to US$ 948.4 million, while manufactured goods rose 58.34% to US$ 437.9 million.

Among Swiss products shipped to Brazil, the predominant items in 2010 continued to be pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and precision machinery and instruments, all reflecting the Swiss hallmark of excellence internationally. On the Brazilian side, as noted above, metals, agricultural products, and chemicals reflect the key role of local affiliates of Swiss companies, which have a major share in this sector.

Both trade partners are mutually diversifying their respective ranges of exports in order to broaden their base of firms engaged in international trade. In pursuing this aim, the activities of the Swiss-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce fulfills one of its essential functions, likewise the Brazilian Embassy in Berne, whose Trade Promotion section is working to introduce new products to the Swiss market. I am closely following the work of the Chamber, which prompts me to take this opportunity to congratulate president Christian Hanssen and chief executive Stephan Buser on the fruitful efforts of their team. I have enthusiastically shared in the success of mutual initiatives that have led to the reciprocal opening of the Swiss and Brazilian markets.

Despite our basic understanding of international trade as a two-way street, however, I would like to emphasize what we in Berne are doing in the other direction, i.e. helping Brazilian products enter the Swiss market by encouraging and supporting companies to take part in international exhibitions or fairs held in Switzerland. In 2010, under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we organized Brazil's successful stand at "Worlddidac Basel" (international exhibition of modern educational materials and methods) in Basel. In 2011, we will be at the Igeho (International Exhibition for Industrial and Institutional Catering, Hotels and Restaurants) and at the Basel Wine Fair. In the last two years, and due for a repeat in 2010, we have taken part in the main trade fair promoting Switzerland's tourism industry, the TTW, in order to support airlines and operators in Switzerland working with Brazil as a tourist destination.

Finally, I would like to mention three highlights of 2010, in terms of bringing out the ties between Brazil and Switzerland, which were organized with the Embassy's support. I refer to the Brazilian visits made by Federal Councelor Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, accompanied by a delegation composed of leading figures from Switzerland's scientific and academic community; by Secretary of State Jean Daniel Gerber, then head of the Secretariat for the Economy (SECO), with a business delegation; and the third meeting of the Brazil-Switzerland Trade and Economic Relations Joint Commission (Comista) in Berne.

Federal Councelor Burkhalter's visit saw the continuation of our scientific and technological cooperation activities under the auspices of the action plan signed in Berne, in 2009, which highlighted energy, environment, health and neuroscience as priorities. During Secretary Gerber's stay in Brazil, affairs pertaining to boosting economic and trade relations were discussed. At the third Joint Commission (Comista) meeting in Berne, in December 2010, we discussed bilateral trade and investment, double taxation, market access, intellectual property and industry-level issues of interest to both countries.

All of the above shows that bilateral relations are being consolidated and I shall continue to work for this as part of my mission.

 

Berne, February 11, 2011