By Patricia Maresch, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last month over 25 Dutch business delegates came to Brazil looking to build relationships and initiate trade. “Our mentalities are alike”, said former Dutch Minister of Transport, Camiel Eurlings during a previous visit to Brazil in April. “Both Brazilians and Dutch think in terms of opportunities and possibilities when it comes to trade.”
Brazil is Holland’s main export destination in Latin America and the Netherlands are amongst the largest investors in Brazil, and is the fourth largest export destination for Brazil with US$8.2 billion in 2009.
The Dutch delegation visited São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and a small group went to Recife as well. The week program in Rio included a visit to the Maracanã stadium, which is closed due to renovations for the World Cup, but doors were opened for the delegation, who reportedly are keen on handling security for the renovated stadium.
According to a spokesperson at the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs, Dutch companies see huge potential in the growing Brazilian market. Not only in regards to the World Cup in 2014 and Olympic Games in 2016, but also in food processing, shipbuilding, (renewable) energy, water treatment, construction of airports and transportation over water and land.
Most participants came on this mission to find out how to do business, says the spokesperson. “What seems to have become clear for the Dutch companies is that Brazil is not an easy country. It has its business culture, specific legislation and red tape.”
A mobility consultant from the Dutch firm TNO, Filipe Fraga, adds that it’s important for companies to invest in understanding the local situation:”Brazil is very strong in a number of areas, so the approach should be to learn from each other,” he says. “My experience was that Brazilians seem to have high regard for Dutch companies, especially regarding technology,” Fraga adds.
Much of the Brazilian growth depends on the efficiency of its infrastructure, shipping and port operations. An executive at a Brazilian food company says that precisely because of Holland’s efficient logistics infrastructure it has always been considered an interesting partner. “We have high domestic consumption, but due to inefficiency on our trading routes we are losing profits. We definitely want to know more about transport by rail and waterways,” he says.
In addition, the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the main transit ports of Brazilian products. Therefore, as a strategic partner, Brazil is of significance for the Netherlands. “Dutch companies feel it is important to strengthen and expand the relationship between the two countries,” says the Ministry’s spokesperson.
In this sense the mission went well, as delegates had a number of matchmaking appointments. The most important conclusion of the visit was that foreign companies might often benefit from having a local agent or representative. “This may be the difference between success and failure,” according to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.