Message of President

25/03/2009
Christian Hanssen

Annual Report 2008; pag. 15
Looking back, I can say without exaggeration that we have had a very busy year culminating in a positive financial outcome, but we are now undergoing major negative change at the macroeconomic level.

This result was only possible due to the efforts of the team at SWISSCAM together with our principal aim of providing services at an attractive cost. I would like to acknowledge the work of our staff and extend greetings to members of the board. Also, please note that SWISSCAM has moved its offices to a different address.

I would like to highlight the transfer of a good friend of SWISSCAM, Ambassador Rudolf Baerfuss, and welcome the new ambassador, Mr. Wilhelm Meier. I feel sure that our longstanding and cordial relations will be maintained.

As in previous years, we organized participation at fairs such as CIOSP and the Hospital fair for our members and for Swiss companies, with significant results.

We welcomed visits from representatives of key Swiss government agencies and organizations, chief among them the Federal Council member and Foreign Minister, Ms. Micheline Calmy-Rey, who learned of the social responsibility activities of Swiss companies located in Brazil, and personally made contacts with the Swiss community in São Paulo. In Brasília, together with the Brazilian government’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Celso Amorim, she signed a memorandum of understanding for a Brazil-Switzerland strategic partnership plan. This was an important step in the further development of bilateral relations.

In addition to this visit, we welcomed the secretary of state of Switzerland’s Foreign Relations department, Mr. Michael Ambühl, the head of the Americas desk at the Ministry of Economics, Mr. Philippe Nell, the CEO of OSEC, Mr. Daniel Küng, and OSEC’s director for the Americas, Mr. Martin von Walterskirchen.

The main aim of all these visits was to discuss ways of facilitating and expanding trade between the two countries. No less important was our receiving a visit from Brazil’s new ambassador to Switzerland, Ms. Maria Stela Pompeu Brasil Frota.

I would also like to mention two important events from last year.

One was a seminar on Intellectual Property held in cooperation with the embassy and the Swiss Business Hub. There were speeches from international experts and a panel discussion on this key issue attended by Brazilian authorities, including parliamentarians.

This road-show was held in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. As a result, it became quite clear that the Law of Patents must be transparently associated with a streamlined procedure for filing applications. On this basis, new technologies from other countries will induce the development of Brazilian industry, which is vitally necessary.

The other event took place in Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo, where OSEC presented the advantages of Switzerland’s location in the heart of Europe for firms entering the European market. Representatives from Vale and Vicunha, both of whom have offices in Switzerland, reported on their experience there.

An essential point to add is that the macroeconomic situation has changed considerably and the initial signs of deterioration were visible at the end of 2007. The cause of the decline involved many banks, including institutions in Switzerland, and what is known as “Wall-Street”, carrying out transactions that may be described as “unconventional” - to avoid using a stronger epithet. The ultimate impact for the real economy, or “Main-Street”, is not yet clear, but will apparently be less severe in the case of the Brazilian economy.

Nevertheless, civil society must persevere in catalyzing the beginning of the process of reforms as promised, which is a longstanding issue on our agenda.