The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will be a success story for Brazil, just like the football World Cup two years ago, says Swiss ambassador to Brazil André Regli. In an interview with swissinfo.ch, he talks about the challenges for Swiss investors in Latin America’s largest country.
Regli, who has been in his post for nearly three years, says Rio will benefit from the summer Olympics, which are due to open on August 5.
“The Games are a wonderful platform to present the country to potential investors,” he says. Beyond that, the two-week event will also provide some relief to people in Brazil who are trying to cope with the worst economic crisis in 20 years, he adds.
He says Switzerland is watching the situation closely as both countries have close trade and investment ties following the launch of a strategic partnership in 2008. “Switzerland is among the top ten investors in Brazil,” Regli says.
The ambassador is confident that Swiss firms, including the pharmaceutical company Novartis, will not leave the country simply because of the crises. However, the bureaucracy and a lack of skilled labour is a serious obstacle for business.
“For instance, importing pharmaceutical products into Brazil is a major problem,” Regli explains. “Nearly all Swiss importers told me that well-qualified labour is very difficult to find.”
He says the complicated system with the national health agency leads to high costs.
Last year, Swiss exports to Brazil totalled CHF2.05 billion ($2.08 billion) – a drop of 1.4% compared to 2014. Imports slumped 10.7% in the same period, down to CHF1.43 billion.
In 2015, there were more than 15,700 registered Swiss nationals in Brazil.
Read the original interview in Portuguese.
Adapted by Urs Geiser , swissinfo