Deiss visit to Brazil strengthens relations
Economics Minister Joseph Deiss says his three-day trip to Brazil has yielded positive results.
Among the developments made, he said, were discussions on dual taxation and a new level of friendship between the two governments.
Deiss, accompanied by a group of around 30 Swiss business representatives, visited Brazil en route to Cancun in Mexico, where he will attend the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference.
While in Brazil, he met a number of ministers and the president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
“Bilateral relations have reached a new level: friendship,” Deiss said at the end of his visit, adding that he had invited the president to visit Switzerland in 2005.
Deiss added that he welcomed the promise made by the Brazilian minister of finances, Antonio Palocci, to push ahead with discussions on dual taxation, whereby dual nationalities, along with Swiss living in Brazil or vice versa are taxed in both countries.
Open to liberalisation
Deiss said signs that Brazil was willing to liberalise its markets were also encouraging.
Representatives from the Swiss pharmaceutical industry who accompanied Deiss on his trip offered to establish an exchange of know-how and technology with Brazil.
Relations between industrialised and developing countries concerning pharmaceuticals made significant headway last month, when a WTO accord was signed allowing poor countries to make cheap copies of lifesaving drugs.
Switzerland boasts a number of pharmaceutical giants, including Roche and Novartis, while Brazil has a growing generic medicines industry.
The issue of free trade came up during the meeting between Deiss and Lula da Silva.
In particular they discussed current negotiations on a free trade accord between Mercosur – a body made up of a number of South American countries, including Brazil – and the European Free Trade Association.
Deiss also brought up the issue of agricultural policy, set to be a hot topic at the WTO conference.
Switzerland has voiced its concern over proposals to cut subsidies to farmers in industrialised countries. Farmers in poorer countries claim these subsidies undercut their ability to compete in agricultural trade.
Deiss presented Switzerland's opinion on the issue to the Brazilian agricultural minister, Roberto Rodigues, who acknowledged the Swiss government's stance.
Trade relations with Brazil are considered important by Switzerland. Brazil is Switzerland’s biggest trading partner in South America, but business between the two countries slowed over 2002, mostly because of a decline in Brazilian imports.
Deiss hoped to increase Swiss investor interest in the South American country through his visit.
swissinfo with agencies
Switzerland’s main exports to Brazil are aircraft, agricultural products, metal and metal-based products.
In 2002 Switzerland invested SFr483.9 million ($347 million) in Brazil.
Trade between Switzerland and Brazil has been rising steadily: in 2001, trade between the two countries totalled SFr2.2 billion.
The WTO ministerial conference will take place in Mexico from September 10 to 14.
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