Press Release: Head of EAER visits Brazil on economic and scientific mission

Berne, 27.03.2014

Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), will visit Brazil accompanied by an economic and scientific delegation from 3 to 5 April. The purpose of the visit is to strengthen economic relations and intensify scientific exchange with Latin America by opening the first swissnex on the continent.

Brazil is a strategically important partner for Switzerland in Latin America. In its foreign policy and science strategies, the Federal Council has decided to strengthen ties with the BRIC countries, of which Brazil is one.

Talks are scheduled in Brasilia with economic affairs minister Mauro Borges Lemos, science minister Clélio Campolina Diniz, foreign minister Alberto Figueiredo Machado and agriculture minister Neri Geller. Besides the official talks, there will be meetings with local business associations. The science delegation, for its part, will take part in the 2nd Joint Committee of the Brazilian-Swiss research programme.

The next stop on the itinerary is Rio de Janeiro, where the main focus will be the official opening of the sixth swissnex by Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann. The purpose of the swissnex network is to promote Switzerland as a science and innovation location by connecting researchers, universities and young entrepreneurs from both countries. The delegation will also visit the renowned Fiocruz research centre and take part in a panel discussion on urban planning. Finally, it will visit two infrastructure projects by successful Swiss companies in Rio.

Brazil is now the world’s seventh largest economy, and so the Brazilian market is of growing importance to Swiss companies. Brazil is Switzerland’s main trading partner in Latin America ahead of Mexico and Argentina. In 2013, the volume of trade between Switzerland and Brazil was worth CHF 3.1 billion. In 2012 Swiss investments in Brazil totalled CHF 22.7 billion, and Swiss companies employ about 130 000 people in the country.

Brazil is also an important strategic partner in education, research and innovation (ERI). The country’s investment in research and development has grown by approximately 75 per cent in real terms since 2000. Under their bilateral research programme, Switzerland and Brazil have so far funded 22 research projects and over 35 institutional agreements have been concluded between Brazilian and Swiss universities.