CEOE vice president, Íñigo Fernández de Mesa, speaks at the Spain-Brazil Seminar

The vice president of CEOE and president of the Institute of Economic Studies (IEE), Íñigo Fernández de Mesa, spoke at the Brazil-Spain seminar: “Building the systemic collaboration Brazil-Spain: investments and business opportunities in the post-pandemic scenario”, organized by the Embassy of Brazil and the Spain-Brazil Council Foundation, with the support of Casa de América. High-level representatives of governments and the private sector from both countries participated in the event.

The day was divided into two panels. The first one focused on offering the government vision of Brazil and Spain about the priorities and challenges of economic recovery in the post-Covid context; while, in the second, the perspectives of the private sector of both countries on bilateral economic and trade relations were presented, including the Mercosur-EU agreement and Brazil's entry into the OECD.

The conference was opened by the Director General of Economic Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Luis Moreno; the president of the Spain-Brazil Council Foundation and CEO of Mapfre S.A., Antonio Huertas; the director of Casa de América, Antonio Pérez-Hernández; and the Brazilian ambassador to Spain, Pompeu Andreucci Neto.

In the first panel of the seminar, which was presented under the slogan: “Priorities and remains in the post-pandemic scenario: a governmental vision”, the assistant executive secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Bruno Eustáquio; the special assistant secretary for External Relations of the Executive Secretariat of the Civil House, Pedro Florêncio; the director of the Department of Structuring and Articulation of Associations of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Fábio Rogério Teixeira Dias de Almeida Carvalho; the Secretary for Transportation Associations of the Investment Associations Program, Thiago Costa Monteiro Caldeira; and the director of the Department for the Promotion of Services and Industry of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Luiz Cesar Gasser.

In turn, in the second panel, entitled: "Perspectives of economic and trade relations Brazil-Spain: a vision of the private sector", participated the vice president of CEOE and president of the Institute of Economic Studies (IEE), Íñigo Fernández de Mesa ; the Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs at Telefónica, Eduardo Navarro; the vice president of the Euroamérica Foundation and counselor of the Economic and Social Committee of the European Union, José Ignacio Salafranca; the Ibero-American Deputy Secretary, Ambassador Marcus Vinicius Pinta Gama; and the director of Industrial Development of the National Confederation of Industry of Brazil (CNI), Carlos Eduardo Abijaodi. The day was closed by the Brazilian Ambassador to Spain, Pompeu Andreucci Neto.

Bilateral relations: vision of the private sector

In his speech, the vice president of CEOE and president of the IEE, Íñigo Fernández de Mesa, highlighted that Brazil constitutes a key market for Spanish business interests, as it represents 40% of Latin American GDP; and praised the excellent bilateral relations, at the economic, commercial and institutional level. In this sense, Fernández spoke of the close collaboration between CEOE and its Brazilian counterpart, the National Confederation of Industries (CNI), with which it has organized, and will continue to do so, a large number of joint activities in recent years.

Spanish companies, Fernández said, have a large presence in sectors such as telecommunications, financial services, metallurgy and energy supply. And it has also identified, he added, numerous opportunities in infrastructure, management of water resources and the environment, gas and mining, automotive, agri-food and tourism.

Cooperation with the CNI, he stressed, also extends to the international and regional sphere, in Latin America and in Europe, through the relationship between both organizations in the defense of business interests within the International Organization of Employers, Global Business Coalition and Business at OECD. As well as through participation in business meetings held within the framework of the Ibero-American Summits of Heads of State and Government, and whose present edition will take place in Andorra in April 2021.

Íñigo Fernández made reference to the important role played by the Council of Ibero-American Entrepreneurs (CEIB), an institution backed by the International Organization of Employers (OIE), which brings together the 24 most important business organizations in all of Ibero-America, among which are of course Find the National Confederation of Industries (CNI) of Brazil. In this sense, he assured, such is the collaboration that unites us that, within the framework of the Ibero-American Forums of the MIPYME, which CEIB was going to organize together with the SEGIB, the fourth edition of the Forum with the support of the CNI. It was initially scheduled to be held in April 2020 in Brasilia and had to be postponed as a result of the pandemic, on a date yet to be determined.

The CEOE vice president recalled that on September 14, in his speech during the Forum "Ibero-American Dialogue – Thinking about SMEs first", organized by the CNI, SEBRAE, CEIB and SEGIB, highlighted the need to take care of small and medium-sized companies in the Region, given that they represent most of the Ibero-American business fabric and are responsible for most of the job creation. It considered crucial for its survival, to establish a regulatory framework that provides certainty, support the liquidity of SMEs and improve their access to financing, as well as avoid tax increases that further penalize companies that normally do not have as many reserves as large ones.

In the current context, and especially as a result of the pandemic, Fernández opted to promote the digitization of companies at all levels, avoiding the generation of more taxes, without increasing the tax burden, without higher costs or bureaucratic burdens and creating a framework attractive legal system, which includes legal certainty. He also explained that this process must be accompanied by the digitization of the Public Administration. On the other hand, he insisted on the importance of complementarity between companies from both countries, a model that should be based, in his opinion, on their internationalization. In this sense, the CEOE vice president highly valued the reforms announced by the Brazilian government, which focus on fiscal balance, opening up and improving competitiveness, reducing the unnecessary role of the public sector to free up the private sector, and various measures aimed at improving "Economic Freedom."

At the international level, Fernández continued, we businessmen value the support given by the Brazilian government to multilateralism. For this reason, he highlighted the government's support in promoting negotiations to secure the signing of the association agreement between the EU and Mercosur. An agreement, he stressed, that not only provides for a tariff disarmament, but also incorporates transcendental chapters in the areas related to investments, services, public procurement, intellectual property, regulatory cooperation or sustainability, aspects that, without a doubt, they form the basis of fruitful and productive business relationships, creating opportunities and favoring the diversification of supply chains.

Entrepreneurs, he stressed, have also welcomed with great satisfaction the request of the Brazilian government to join the OECD, an initiative that should have the full support of the European Union and Spain, as it would mean adapting the regulatory framework to the more demanding standards and the incorporation of Brazil into the group of the most advanced countries in the world.

In short, in Íñigo Fernández's opinion, the presence of our companies in both countries, promoting and maintaining investment, and working for a regional agreement such as MERCOSUR, should be priority issues for both Brazil and Spain. "It is not a one-day job, but a work of continuity, effort and enthusiasm to materialize the commitments of the business sector and the public sector together for the economic and social development of both countries," he concluded.

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