An Interview with Raul Papaleo

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August 17, 2011

Do you think Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to Brazil, and his speech yesterday, reflects a new Canadian orientation toward Brazil, characterized by collaboration rather than competition?

Surely, the visit of Prime Minister Harper and his speeches in Brasilia and Sao Paulo are a clear demonstration of Canada’s orientation towards collaboration with Brazil. That was reflected in several actions taken by private companies, universities, and other institutions, mainly in the last year, increasing the level of trade and investments between Canada and Brazil, but Harper’s clear position is reinforcing those actions and projecting much more business.

How can Harper accomplish his goal of escalating Canada-Brazil trade and investment? What factors lie beyond Canada’s control?

I think the best way is to establish the Canada-Brazil CEO Forum very quickly and give a lot of importance to the JTEC. Those two business-oriented forums have to help in following up with the opportunities for collaboration, and proposing objective ways to go over eventual barriers that can make the trade and investment increase slow. I’m referring to some taxations and rules built to protect local industries and some importation rules, as well as taxes on foreign capital.

Beyond engaging Brazil through business (for instance, with the Canada-Brazil CEO Forum announced yesterday), in what ways can Canada engage Brazil?

I referred to the forums when answering the previous question, but other measures could be the increase of the Canadian presence in Brazil and a dramatic increase in the information level about Canada for Brazilian entrepreneurs. Surely the Chamber of Commerce must be involved in those efforts to engage Brazil.

Do you see Canada’s interest in Brazil as part of a broader interest in the BRICs (or, really, BICs) – or is it special given geographical and cultural context?

I believe the interest in Brazil is primarily due to geographical and cultural aspects. Canada and Brazil are very similar. They are both multicultural countries, and they both depend on natural resources. Similar to Canada, Brazil has welcomed many, many immigrants over the last 200 years, bringing a multitude of cultures and knowledge. The fact that the two countries rely on natural resources could be a barrier (if thought of in terms of competition), but has, in fact, been the leverage for more business together, because the businessmen are thinking the same way, wondering how they can overcome difficulties and get a major space in the commercial and market activities throughout the world.