“Brazil has the vocation of a world power and an exceptional development potential. Its population boasts a magnificent mosaic, and it’s among the nations which have best managed to promote the peaceful co-existence of people from different cultures.”
The statement was made by the president of the Swiss parliament, Dominique de Buman, in an interview held today (May 16) with Agência Brasil. De Buman has been in Brazil since Sunday (13), and participated in the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of Swiss immigration in Brazil, held in Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro, slated to end tomorrow (17).
Referred to as “the first Swiss citizen” for occupying the country’s highest political position, Dominique de Buman was born in Fribourg, home of the first Swiss immigrants who landed in Brazil in 1818, encouraged by a special decree signed by John VI of Portugal. The Swiss were the first European immigrants to settle in the Latin American country after the Portuguese, leaving their country to flee a severe economic crisis plaguing Europe.
Immigration and tourism
De Buman praised Brazil’s friendly policy towards immigrants. “It’s a smart policy on the part of an important country with a massive territory, and a lot of natural resources. In this connection, Brazil’s opening to the new wave of immigration is advantageous for the country, which has a long history of providing shelter.”
Also the president of Switzerland’s National Federal of Tourism, de Buman said there is great interest in strengthening ties in tourism. “The clientele in Brazil and Latin America is not so present in Switzerland. For this reason, on our side, we’ll make efforts to facilitate the conditions for the access to Switzerland and the purchasing power of this public.” Furthermore, he said, there are a significant number of people in Switzerland interested in visiting South America, “a region that’s relatively safe, stable, which opposes terrorism, like Switzerland. These are interesting conditions for tourist exchange.”
Brazil-Switzerland relations are remarkable, de Buman said, adding that Brazil is the top destination of Swiss exports in South America—an exchange that grew more and more intense over the years.
In his view, the expansion of trade between the two countries will necessarily “include an agreement between Mercosur and the European Free Trade Association, of which Switzerland is a member.” He notes however, that, despite its solid economy, Switzerland is a small country, with a population of just 8 million, so “it’s not possible to trade with every country the same way.”
The president of the Swiss parliament says that his country has maintained “an important historical contact” with South America, particularly with Argentina, Chile, and, of course, Brazil. “They’re global economies, and we must acknowledge that everything is global nowadays, and that everything will go through Mercosur.” He went on to express his optimism regarding the bolstering of commercial relations.
Figures from the Swiss-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (Swisscam Brasil) show that the two countries have nurtured harmonious trade relations for a long time. Brazil accounts for 19% of Switzerland’s business transactions in Latin America, and ranked 26th among the biggest commercial partners of the European country in 2016.
From 2006 to 2016, Brazilian exports to Switzerland soared 95% in value, Swisscam reported. Among the goods sold by Brazil are equipment, port installations, gold bars, aluminum, tobacco, art-related material, beef, machinery and mechanical devices, coffee, and orange juice. The main imports from Switzerland to Brazil include pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and medical products.
Studies and football
When asked about a possible increase in the number of scholarships for Brazilians pursuing a master’s degree or PhD in Switzerland, de Buman said this was part of Switzerland’s diplomatic relations with Brazil. “Contact channels must be opened; it’s a matter of communication. I can imagine, for instance, in agriculture, that that we could develop and improve the level of culture in the wine sector in Brazil to enhance wine quality. We have to acknowledge that the world has been globalized and that therefore we must seize the benefits existing between Brazil and Switzerland, which are impressive and may complement each other remarkably well,” he noted.
De Buman also talked to Agência Brasil about Switzerland’s chances of defeating Brazil in this year’s World Cup, in Russia. In his opinion, “there’s no surprise around the corner, because football is going to win. We know that Switzerland is a very small country. Brazil’s got history, and a DNA designed for football. But Switzerland’s performance may prove surprising, as our nation is deeply rooted on will power. But that’s the principle behind every game: everyone has the same chances, anyone can win, and what matters is that the relations between the two teams grow stronger after the match.”