breakfast meeting with Ambassadors of Norway and Brazil

Last week BNCC and NHO gathered their members in a breakfast meeting with the Norwegian Ambassador to Brazil, HE Mr. Nils Martin Gunneng at NHO premises in Oslo. The Brazilian Ambassador to Norway, HE Mr. George Monteiro Prata was also present to do a short intervention on his perspective about the topics presented.

Tore Myhre, Director for International Affairs at NHO, welcomed the audience with more than 50 participants, representatives of diverse organizations and from the business sector. Ambassador Nils Gunneng started his presentation, that had a focus on the economy and the political development that influences economic growth.

Ambassador Nils Gunneng briefly introduced Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro who took office on 1 January. He explained Bolsonaro’s campaign proposed economic policies that are positive and necessary, in a shared sense of what is expected for the economic policies in the county. Brazil is slowly recovering from a devasted recession. This period is difficult, takes time, and brings many challenges. Brazil is vast, and a continental tank is never able to turn directions overnight.

The Ambassador agreed that Brazil’s pension reform, which could pass soon, is essential to increase the economy. President Bolsonaro promised a different approach from the former government, with the liberalization of the economy. Besides pension reform, which could pass soon, the Minister of Finance and Trade, Paulo Guedes wants to propose other changes that could boost the economy: Tax Reform, Privatization of several state companies, and development of trade deals.

Ambassador Gunneng indicated confidence that pension reform will pass. With this reform in place, Brazil’s finance will save sufficiently to boost the economy. The fact that congress and government are talking so much about tax indicates that after the pension reform, the tax system will be the next step. Another piece of good news is the Mercosur-EU trade deal and negotiations with EFTA, that are developing further. Also, de-regularization for foreign investment went through the house. It will be less bureaucratic to establish companies in Brazil. All this shows that the Brazilian economy is not boosting but is moving to the right side.

Balanced with these hopes, however, are the ability of Bolsonaro’s team has to negotiate the proposed reforms and secure necessary support in complex Brazilian congress. The Ambassador shared his thoughts that conflicts between the government and congress can lead to a turning mood from the society. Also, the ability to deal with international agreements and trade partners is important.

When coming to values, Brazil and Norway are currently far apart on certain issues. The new government of Brazil consists of several people with lack of experience with formal politics and somewhat unrealistic prospects about what is possible and not possible to do. Some actual values defended by this government are unfortunately interfering in the good relation Brazil and Norway use to have. The current government of Brazil have very different values from what Norway is used to relate, and Norway is learning how to deal with these differences, explained the Ambassador.

The Brazilian Ambassador to Norway, HE Mr. George Monteiro Prata briefly remembered the audience that there are three main reasons for Bolsonaro’s election: the biggest economic crisis of the Brazilian history, a huge unsatisfaction with the political class and the domestic violence that took over the country in the last years. Bolsonaro cached this opportunity during his campaign and promised to prioritize economic recovery. People that voted to Bolsonaro do not necessarily share all his values, but had a hope in the changes he promised, explained the Ambassador. For many people, Bolsonaro’s administration will be measured by the success in the economic front and the Government is committed in promoting economic growth.

He reaffirmed the intention of Brazil’s liberal economic model, with an economy more open to the world. A good example is EU and Mercosur agreement on trade under this government, after almost 20 years of negotiations. In addition to that, EFTA and Mercosur are in the last phase of free trade negotiations.

Among the most important priorities, the Brazilian Ambassador mentioned fiscal consolidation, tax reform, privatization on debureaucratization. There are over 130 states companies in Brazil, and the government intends to privatize many of them. All those measures will have an effect in the whole economy and the way international business can operate in Brazil.

The Brazilian Ambassador also mentioned another piece of important information: That is a critical concession program to help the economy grow while attracting new infrastructure investments.

After the intervention of the Ambassadors, a vibrant Q&A session took place. The audience wants to know more about the consequences of environmental politics and deforestation. Both Ambassador shared their perspectives about the topic. At the moment of the event, that was not official, yet that Norway would suspend its donations to the Amazon fund. The Norwegian ministry of climate and environment confirmed this decision in the evening following this event.
Several high-level executives have been present in this meeting. Taking advantage of his presence, the organizers invited Luis Araujo, CEO of Aker Solutions, who is Brazilian, to give an overview of the state of affairs in Brazil from the perspective of the industry. Araujo gently accepted the challenge and shared his views with the audience. 

​Araujo believes that Brazil is on the right way for boosting the economy. He gave us an example. Aker Solutions’ plant in Brazil is the biggest and most modern subsea plant in the world successfully operating and exporting talents from the country. When considering business and economic measures, he is optimistic. As a manager, he tries to disassociate from day-to-day noise and concentrate on the potential of the country. However, he mentions that the government values matter and can influence the success of international businesses operating in the country.

Aage Thoen, chairman of BNCC, presented closing remarks remembering the importance of developing further a health relation in the commercial arena and keeping looking to Brazil as a country of in numerous opportunities to the Norwegian business sector.

A mingling session took place where members from BNCC and NHO could meet, exchange experiences and discuss their ideas



By Larissa Slottet, BNCC