Message of President

25/03/2010
Christian Hanssen

Annual Report 2009; pag. 21

The year 2009 was surely a special one. From an economic point of view, it was extremely negative at the beginning of the period whereas there were clear signs of improvement by the last quarter.

SWISSCAM's operational financial result was slightly positive given the constancy of our membership, while other revenues are being rescheduled, combined with the ongoing effort to control spending. Our staff made a constant effort to ensure this result and at this point I would like to thank all of them. I would also like to extend my appreciation to our Embassy in Brasília for excellent joint work.

As we do every year, we took part in several trade fairs, such as CIOSP, (international odontology), Feimafe (machine tools and systems), and Hospitalar. At these events, we organize the entire stand and infrastructure for Swiss companies, thus helping to promote Swiss technology in Brazil. This activity is very important for SWISSCAM and there are plans to expand its reach.

We held talks or lectures on various subjects such as: "The world crisis and its effects in Brazil" (Dr. Roberto Giannetti da Fonseca), "Advantage of going to arbitration" (Dr. Luiz Olavo Baptista) and "Agriculture in Brazil - past and future" (Dr. Luiz Suplici Hafers).

Ambassador Monika Burzi Rühl, Head of the Swiss Federal Council for Trade Agreements of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), led a delegation from Switzerland to the second meeting of the Brazil-Switzerland Joint Commission held in Brasilia in 2009. During the visit of Minister for the Economy, Doris Leuthard, with Foreign Minister Celso Amorim in 2007, it was decided to set up this committee for broadly based discussions of bilateral economic, trade and other issues. Its first meeting took place in Berne in 2008 and the next is scheduled for this year.

We were also visited by Mr. Martin von Walterskirchen, director for the Americas of OSEC Business Network Switzerland, the body responsible for defining Switzerland's business and investment strategy with our trading partners.

As mentioned above, world trade last year was hit by the worst recession since the Second World War. The initial trigger for this process was lack of sobriety in the financial system's behavior, which had disastrous effects for consumers and, consequently, for industry and services too. Governments planned and took steps such as tax cuts in order to offset adverse effects, but there were protectionist measures too.

Both economies have shown negative or near-zero growth, but these numbers were much better than the major first-world countries. Comparing 2009/2008 trade figures, Brazil's imports from Switzerland were down 17.2% and exports fell 32.7% in value terms. An interesting point is that agricultural products - a key category in terms of their significance, accounting for 63% of all exports - fell by only 3.5%. This means that the other categories fell even more steeply, showing the huge scale of agribusiness in Brazil.

Another explanation for this fall in exports of other products is surely lower demand, combined with high "country cost" in Brazil, a factor that has constantly been discussed in recent years. Some studies have quantified this at 20-30% of total costs. To improve this situation, political-administrative and fiscal reform plans should have been discussed and carried out in every sphere of government and society, but not much real progress has been made in these terms. If we wish to preserve our industrial capacity, this discussion must be concluded as quickly as possible.

As mentioned in the beginning, there are clear signs of improvement on the horizon. However, it would be a mistake to think that everything has been solved. Great efforts will be required of all involved to ensure the return of sustainable growth and SWISSCAM will be constantly working to achieve this shared goal.