By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Strengthening commercial ties between Brazil and the United States is one of the main goals of the new board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Rio de Janeiro (AmCham Rio), according to Rio’s state press. Chaired by Rafael Sampaio da Motta, the new management will prioritize the sustainability of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo state’s economic activity.
While it is no secret that doing business in Brazil can be difficult, due to high regulations and sometimes unclear bureaucracy, the strengthening U.S. dollar to the Brazilian real, and some new indications of changes to the labor law should help foster interest.
Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão was present at the AmCham Rio event on Monday, April 13th, to inaugurate the new board, explaining, “It is a strategic and important partnership for us.”
“We have extraordinary experiences with the United States, with the support of the state of Maryland in preparing projects for the recovery of Guanabara Bay, as well as the training of doctors from Hospital Alberto Torres. Not to mention the several American companies based in Rio de Janeiro, such as Procter & Gamble, GE, Cisco and IBM, which generate employment, income and development,” Pezão said.
The government reported on a number of recent examples of success in U.S. business relationships. In 2013, the Rio state government signed a cooperation agreement with the Maryland State to exchange experiences, since the American state was successful in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, with characteristics similar to the Guanabara Bay.
In 2012, a team of Health Department professionals visited the Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland, to receive training and implement high-quality care to patients with multiple trauma at the Trauma Center of the State Alberto Torres Hospital in São Gonçalo.
American expatriate in Rio and Senior Vice President of Forward Properties International do Brasil, Jeff Sobel, shared an outlook of business in Brazil, “In the near-term (6-12 months), due to a number of factors such as the slow down in the economy, rising inflation and unemployment rates, and ongoing corruption investigations, Brazil will be an especially challenging business environment. Nevertheless, with an expanding middle class and abundant natural resources, there continues to be great potential that should not be overlooked.”
AmCham Rio is a multisectoral organization with about 250 member companies from different countries doing business in Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo, which invests in enhancing competitiveness and acts on behalf of corporate interests, making contact with local, state and federal authorities.
“With the approach of the relations between the United States and Brazil and the largest trade and economic gap between the two countries, sectors such as energy, infrastructure, logistics technology, services, tourism and creative industry will benefit. We want to boost the business environment in Rio” said the new president of AmCham Rio, Rafael Sampaio da Motta.
While relations between Brazil and the U.S. have had some difficult moments, most recently when President Rousseff canceled her official visit to Washington following a spy scandal, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday, April 11th that Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff will visit Washington on June 30th, raising hopes of closer ties that could increase trade between the two biggest economies in the Americas.