By Claire West

On the first day of his visit to Brazil, Secretary of State for Business Dr Vince Cable announced new measures to strengthen business cooperation between the two countries.

Together with Miguel Jorge, Brazil’s Minister for Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Dr Cable announced the creation of a Brazil-UK CEO Forum. The Forum will provide both governments with practical advice on the issues and opportunities to be addressed as part of an enhanced bilateral relationship.

Dr Cable said:

“Together the governments of the UK and Brazil are bringing about a step change in the way we work, to reinvigorate and deepen our strategic partnership. Businesspeople from both countries must be at the heart of the bilateral relationship, bringing their experience to the table as we consider how it can be enhanced to benefit both sides. The changes that we are making reflect our commitment to this.”

The ministers were speaking after co-chairing the fifth annual ministerial meeting of the Brazil-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO). The ministers have also agreed to increase the involvement of private sector representatives in these annual trade talks.

Representatives of government and business will look at opportunities in the following priority sectors:

Infrastructure and energy;
Co-operation around major sports events, like the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the World Cup;
Innovation and competitiveness;
Creative industries;
Training and capacity building;
Healthcare.

The governments also revealed their intention to sign an agreement to avoid the double taxation of international aircrew, an important precursor to the long-term goal of a full double taxation agreement between the UK and Brazil.

Making the first ministerial visit between the countries since the UK elections in May, Dr Cable will continue meeting business leaders and government representatives in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro until the end of the week. It is the second visit to enact the Coalition Government’s pledge to build relationships with key partners for the twenty first century, following the delegation to India led by David Cameron.

On the table will be partnership across a range of key areas, from developing the world-leading expertise that can deliver a successful Olympic Games in London 2012 and Rio 2016, to encouraging industrial cooperation in sectors such as defence and security, energy and advanced engineering.

UK companies are leaders in many areas of real importance to the Brazilian economy and many already operate here.

In education (Pearson provides educational services to Brazil’s growing workforce);

In energy (Shell and Cosan have just signed an agreement to supply biofuel, while BG is the largest foreign investor in oil and gas in Brazil);

In infrastructure (Halcrow has provided consultancy services for the high speed train projects which, when done, will link Rio and São Paulo);

In advanced engineering (Rolls Royce and GKN are active in Brazil);

In biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (GlaxoSmithkline is active in Brazil).