By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The governments of both Sweden and Norway have expressed a growing focus in strengthening ties with Brazil, hoping to evolve collaboration strategies in areas including trade and investment, environmental issues, social development and knowledge exchange. The Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) in Rio and Swedish Chamber of Commerce (SWEDCHAM) in São Paulo have been collaborating with a quarterly joint-publication, demonstrating a unified presence of Nordic business interests.
At an event laid on by Norway’s Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) in Rio earlier this year, the Norwegian Minister for Foreign affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, unveiled his government’s strategic plan for Brazil which addressed the four aforementioned primary areas of interest.
Similarly, the Swedish government has pledged to dedicate more resources to promoting its environmental technology solutions in Brazil, hoping to capitalize on and help to develop Brazil’s growing green energy sector.
In a report published by the NBCC and the SWEDCHAM’s joint trade publication Brazil & Sweden Norway Magazine, Grazyna Sotta from the Swedish Trade Council said, “According to [our] initial market findings, growing interest in green construction, provision of basic sanitation access, as well as attempts to diversify the renewable energy and transportation infrastructure matrix will bring about business opportunities for Swedish companies.”
According to Sotta, the growing success of the Brazilian government’s programs to promote renewable energy, Proinfa and Biodiesel, are key indicators of opportunities for Swedish investment. She also sites PAC (Program for Accelerated Development) goals such as reducing road transportation from 58 percent to 30 percent by 2031.
Other developments of interest are the recently passed laws including a universal access to basic sanitation bill and a new environmental construction law for São Paulo. The legislation demands that all new buildings have solar-powered water heating, another possible business opportunity for Sweden.
“Swedish solutions are recognized internationally for a high level of innovation focused on sustainability. As Brazil goes green, the cooperation between the two countries has all the opportunities to become deeper,” Sotta commented.
The Norwegian strategic plan takes a holistic approach, recognizing the importance of Brazil as a business partner, particularly in the field of oil and gas, but also focusing on developing cultural links through sports and education.
“We need more Norwegians who speak Portuguese and are familiar with Brazil. We would like Brazilians to know more about Norway,” Støre said.
He continued, “The Government wants to increase awareness of the importance of Brazil in Norway and to understand in which specific areas Norway could contribute and be a valuable partner to Brazil. We want take a fresh look at our relations and to take them a step further.”
As Brazil moves forward with its development program, it stands to gain from both Nordic countries’ expertise in the field of renewable energy. Furthermore, in relation to the oil fields off the coast, Brazil can look to Norway’s experience with deep-water drilling operations in the North Sea.
At the NBCC event Støre said, “Brazil is important to Norway. Many people who have been here before me have commented on the sense of excitement, the feeling of a kind of gold rush. And I can feel that too.”