Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin on economic and science mission to Brazil

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Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin will visit Brazil from 3 to 9 July with a large economic and science delegation. The focus of the trip will be a meeting with Brazilian Vice President and Minister of the Economy Geraldo Alckmin and the free trade agreement between EFTA and Mercosur. A further aim of the visit is to strengthen cooperation in education, research and innovation. A total of three memoranda of understanding are to be signed.

Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) will be accompanied on the visit by State Secretaries Helene Budliger Artieda (SECO) and Martina Hirayama (SERI), and by Vice Presidents of the Foreign Affairs Committees Hans-Peter Portmann and of the Council of States Marco Chiesa. The economic delegation will comprise more than 30 people from Switzerland, who will be joined for certain items on the agenda by representatives of Swiss companies with subsidiaries in Brazil. The science delegation will include representatives from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Swiss Innovation Agency Innosuisse, the ETH Board and the Leading House for the Latin America Region.

Expanding business and innovation cooperation in São Paulo

The first stage of the visit will take the delegation to São Paulo on 4 and 5 July. As part of a forum on infrastructure and the race to net zero, Federal Councillor Parmelin will meet with Tarcísio de Freitas, the governor of Brazil’s economically most important state by far. Three memoranda of understanding will be signed there: on expanding cooperation in the field of business and innovation between Switzerland and São Paulo, on cooperation between the export and investment promotion agencies Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) and InvestSP, and on cooperation in the field of innovation between Swissnex (the Swiss global network for education, research and innovation) and the national service for industrial training, SENAI. On the agenda are also meetings with the federation of industries of the state of São Paulo, FIESP, the research foundation of the state of São Paulo, FAPESP, and with three universities.

Several ministerial meetings in the capital Brasília

In the capital Brasília, Federal Councillor Parmelin will meet to exchange views with Vice President and Minister of the Economy Geraldo Alckmin, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mauro Vieira and Minister Rui Costa, President’s Chief of Staff, at a forum on investment and innovation in infrastructure and sustainability on 5 and 6 July. Further meetings are planned with Minister of Finance Fernando Haddad, Minister ad interim for Science, Technology and Innovation Luis Manuel Rebelo Fernandes, and various research funding organisations. In addition, Mr Parmelin will award the first prize for sustainability and innovation to a Brazilian and a Swiss company at a high-level event.

Mercosur agreement and further cooperation possibilities in Rio de Janeiro

The last stage of Mr Parmelin’s visit to Brazil will see the delegation in Rio de Janeiro from 6 to 8 July. There he will open a panel discussion on business, trade, innovation and sustainability, focusing on the EFTA-Mercosur free trade agreement. The official meetings will include talks with the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Claudio Castro, and the mayor of the city, Eduardo Paes, on cooperation possibilities in the fields of business and science.

Strengthening cooperation

The aim of the official meetings is to strengthen economic and trade relations and promote opportunities for Swiss companies in the infrastructure sector in Brazil. At the same time, Mr Parmelin seeks to advance the process of concluding the free trade agreement between EFTA and Mercosur. Switzerland is interested in actively participating in the G20 activities under the Brazilian presidency in 2024 and in expanding cooperation in the areas of education, research and innovation. With a view to the COP30 world climate summit, which will take place in Brazil in 2025, the potential for cooperation in the areas of sustainability and innovation will also be discussed.

Brazil is by far Switzerland’s most important economic partner in Latin America with a trade volume of CHF 4.2 billion in 2022, a level of Swiss direct investment of CHF 7.7 billion and more than 65,000 staff employed by Swiss companies. A double taxation agreement has been in place between the two countries since 2022. In 2019, negotiations on the EFTA-Mercosur free trade agreement were concluded in substance. Brazil is also one of the six focus countries in the Federal Council’s mandate of April 2021 to improve access for Swiss businesses to large-scale foreign infrastructure projects.

Brazil is Switzerland’s most important partner in Latin America in the areas of research and innovation. A bilateral agreement on scientific and technological cooperation has been in place since 2009. Direct cooperation between research and innovation actors in both countries are supported by a variety of instruments. Together with its Brazilian partner agency, Innosuisse organises bilateral calls for cooperation projects. Between January 2016 and June 2023, around 190 SNSF project grants involved collaboration with researchers in Brazil. The cooperation instruments of the Leading House for the Latin America Region at the University of St Gallen and the presence of Swissnex in Brazil further help to strengthen collaboration.

Switzerland also supports numerous initiatives in Brazil to increase environmental protection and promote sustainability. These include support for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the promotion of the bioeconomy and the protection of the Amazon, as well as the UNDP programme for sustainable agriculture.

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