Sérgio E. Moreira Lima, Ambassador of Brazil
1. The connections between the two giant territories of the South provide a remarkable foundation for understanding and facing our common contemporary challenges in conserving our rich and unique heritage and biodiversity. Australia and Brazil should further explore these links in the pursuit of sustainable development to ensure the wellbeing of present and future generations. It is therefore a reason to celebrate the efforts by the two countries to enhance their collaboration in science and technology. Both governments recently concluded a general agreement on the subject, which is expected to be in force in 2019. On its turn, CSIRO and EMBRAPA are finalizing an important agreement on R&D cooperation. These agreements will contribute to institutionalize and promote scientific cooperation in key economic areas, such as agriculture technics and methods of production. They will also assist both countries to fulfil their national and international responsibilities in food security and environmental sustainability.
2. CSIRO – Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – is Australia’s national science research agency responsible for overcoming the country’s greatest challenges using innovative science and technology. EMBRAPA – The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation – aims at establishing a model of tropical agriculture and livestock to overcome the barriers that limited the production of food, fibre and fuel in our country. It has played a pivotal role in making Brazil – with its over 210 million inhabitants – not only self-sufficient in agriculture production but also a breadbasket of the world and an important contributor to global food security. Brazilian agriculture is one of the most efficient and sustainable in the planet. Brazil has incorporated a wide area of formerly degraded Cerrado lands, a savannah like biome, into our production systems; a region that now accounts for nearly 50% of our grain production. We have quadrupled the beef and pork supply and increased the poultry output 22-fold. These achievements have moved the country from the condition of basic food importer to one of the world’s largest food producers and exporters.
3. The cooperation between Australia and Brazil is becoming more relevant and less fragmented. Brazilian scientists are in CSIRO and in other Australian research centres and Universities collaborating with their Australian peers. Yet much remains to be done in order to fully institutionalize bilateral cooperation. That is exactly the purpose of the EMBRAPA-CSIRO MOU. Besides, it aims at structuring, broadening and giving focus to Australia and Brazil partnership in agriculture and biotechnology. While growth in demand for food, feed, fuel and fibres presents significant opportunities for agriculture, our research institutions must provide the know-how to overcome challenges such as increasing productivity growth, enhancing environmental performance and adaptation to climate change, and improving resilience of farm households to market shocks brought on by weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances. Farmers will have to adapt to the new instruments of the digital age. But governmental policies and research institutions must assist them in the process by creating incentives to the development of the better and more sustainable ways for agriculture production, which involves soil, seeds, pollinisers, production, rational use of water, smart management of crops, etc. Brazilian scientists collaborate with Australians in a project to identify the reduction of the population of bees worldwide and their impact on agriculture. This is just one example of the activities of global impact in which Brazil and Australian experts are working side by side to increase farm sustainability, productivity, resilience and overall profitability.
4. In 2018, Brazil and Australia signed an MOU on the management of water resources. Australia provides an encouraging example of the use of desalination in its major cities around the country from Sydney to Perth. This is another area in which joint research can bring important solutions for both countries as they face the challenge of ensuring adequate water supply in hinterland regions where hydric resources are scarce. Brazil is keen to collaborate on the development of innovative and affordable technics that enable the desalination of salty waters sourced from artesian wells, especially in the northeast of the country, where a new and promising agricultural frontier can be opened.
5. About one hundred Australian companies are established in Brazil. Traditionally, mining has been the sector which has attracted most investments in partnership with Brazilian firms. In the last decade, Brazilian companies have increased investments in Australia, not only in mining but mainly in animal protein processing. JBS Australia has become the largest meat processing company in this country with a network of facilities from Queensland to Tasmania. It employs over 12,000 people across Australia and, besides maintaining its market shares, it exports from here quality products to over 80 countries.
6. This month during the Avalon Air show, an event that promoted the development of the aeronautical industry in the region, Embraer celebrated its 40 year presence in Australasia showcasing two of its most sold aircraft in the world, the Phenon 300 E and the Legacy 500 Executive jets. There are 34 Embraer aircraft that fly in the region, of which 25 are commercial aircraft and 9 are executive jets. Embraer has Authorized Service Centers located in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Embraer has changed the way to travel in Brazil and it is looking forward to expanding its presence in the Australian market with its new family of modern regional airplanes as well as new defence equipment, such as the KC 390 – a new generation of multimission transport aircraft. Embraer presence in Australia is a reason of pride for the Brazilian community and it is an encouraging signal of the enormous potential for trade in goods and services between the two great nations and the region as a whole. The Chambers of Commerce and the Business Council have a role in enhancing the possibilities for promoting exports of airspace equipment to Australia and strengthening regional aviation. In Melbourne during the week of the Avalon Airshow, I had the pleasure of meeting the Governor of Victoria and also attending a social gathering organized by ABCC with its local members and the Brazilian community.
7. The latest figures for Brazil and Australia bilateral trade in the year 2018 shows an overall trade of US$ 1.6 billion, with a significant surplus for the Australian side. Yet the numbers barely reflect the enormous potential for a significant expansion of both flows of exports and imports which might be more compatible with the size of both countries’ economies. In order to help to promote the role of the chambers, I participated in February in events organized by the Australia Brazil Business Council in Sydney and by the Australian Latin America Business Council (ALABAC). Brazil and Australia are considering negotiating agreements to prevent double taxation and to facilitate trade between the two countries. At the moment, APEX, the Brazilian Agency for Exports and Investment, is requesting Brazilian companies and exporters to provide information on trade barriers which might improve the intelligence and the assessment of prevailing conditions for trade in goods and services between Brazil and other countries, including Australia. With the support of AABC and other relevant organizations, we hope this mapping of perceived barriers will assist us to focus our attention where it is most needed, helping to increase trade and investment between the two countries.
8. The assistance and advice of the Australia Brazil Business Council and its members will be invaluable to our common effort to improve current trade and investments as well as on bilateral cooperation. Together we will be able to create the necessary conditions to significantly improve economic relations between the two countries and raise science and technology cooperation to a new level.