Message of Swiss Ambassador to Brazil

Rudolf Bärfuss

Annual Report 2005; pag. 19
This year, Brazil and SWISSCAM have something in common: they are both holding presidential elections. In the case of SWISSCAM we already know that the titular will change. In Brazilian politics, things are less clear and many things can change before October 2006.

Swiss-Brazilian relations continued in excellent shape in 2005. In July, Mr. Bruno Frick, president of the Swiss Senate, came to Brazil on an official visit to meet authorities and executives in Sao Paulo and Brasília. In October 2006, Mr. Roberto Rodrigues, Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, visited Switzerland, where he met with the Minister of Economy, Mr. Joseph Deiss. The main topics of the meeting where the WTO Doha Round and Swiss-Brazilian Bilateral Economic Relations. Minister Rodrigues made a speech before the Latin American Chamber of Commerce.

Concerning Swiss foreign policy, the Swiss population voted in favor of two important issues for our relationship with the European Union (in May and September 2005). It approved two new agreements with the EU, one concerning the Schengen/ Dublin System (cooperation in issues related to police and asylum policies), the other regulating the free movement of persons. These two agreements are part of two packages of bilateral agreements signed by Switzerland and the EU. Today, we can say that most problems Swiss companies faced in relation to the EU are solved.

In May 2005, the Swiss government made a strategic review of its foreign policy and decided to expand its focus on emerging countries with significant growth potential, such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil. Both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy are working to complete strategic documents and action plans aimed at strengthening the country’s relationship with Brazil. The government also made a survey of the present status of Swiss companies operating in Brazil. I would like to thank SWISSCAM and the companies that greatly contributed to this review by answering the questionnaire sent to them by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco).

My team at the Swiss Embassy in Brasília has also been working towards strengthening the bonds between our countries. In February 2005, the Embassy team was reinforced by an Attaché, in charge of cooperating with police authorities in Brazil. Our joint efforts to fight human trafficking, especially involving women, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering, have already been showing good results. We have also made significant steps in our preparations to sign a new bilateral agreement focusing on scientific and technological cooperation between Switzerland and Brazil. The agreement is expected to be signed at the end of 2006 or beginning of next year.

To better know and understand the Brazilian reality, I left my office in Brasília on a number of occasions and traveled to several states to meet state and city authorities. With the help of our consular representatives, I could visit several Swiss communities and Swiss companies. Many of my trips brought me to Sao Paulo, but I also visited the states of Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, Bahia, Ceará, Paraíba, and Amazon. On such occasions, I met many Swiss men and women: successful entrepreneurs and various extraordinary entities and personalities that are dedicated to helping underprivileged children, protecting the environment, and fighting for sustainable development.

Finally, I do wish the Brazilian economy to regain a rapid upswing. I hope companies will keep on pursuing sustainable growth even in an election year, when the political temperature tends to go up. On the day-to-day basis, I’m pleased to continue and even strengthen the good cooperation between the Embassy and Consulates with SWISS-CAM, a cooperation effort marked by competence and trust and driven by dynamism and innovation.