CCBC discusses the opportunities of agribusiness

First edition of a forum brings together Brazilian and Canadian experts

By Sérgio Siscaro

The agricultural and livestock segment is the leading generator of wealth, in Brazil. Recognizing the strength of this sector for Brazilian trade relations, as well as its capacity to attract foreign investments or to benefit from experiences and solutions developed in other countries, Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC) promoted the first edition of the Brazil-Canada Agriculture Forum. There is nothing that could be more natural: after all, in 2020 Brazilian exports of agricultural and livestock products totaled US$ 530 million (29.5% more than in 2019), with dominance of items such as sugar, coffee and poultry, among others. Accordingly, the segment accounted, last year, for 12.5% of all Brazilian sales to Canada.

Organized in partnership with the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), and with the support of Global Affairs Canada,  Embassy of Canada in Brazil, and the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, the event took place, in an online format, over the course of four days, distributed throughout three weeks between May and June.

Prominent position

By benefiting from gains achieved in productivity, in the last decades, through the employment of the most modern techniques and equipment, the segment has significantly increased its participation in the Brazilian Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Data calculated by Centro de Estudos Avançados em Economia Aplicada (Cepea) (Center for Advanced Studies in Applied Economics), of Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz da Universidade de São Paulo (Esalq/USP) (Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture of the University of São Paulo), and by Confederação da Agricultura e Pecuária do Brasil (CNA) (Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil), indicate that, in 2020, the segment was responsible, for 26.6% of Brazilian GDP, which is equivalent to almost R$ 2 trillion.

This same positive performance can be observed in the Brazilian exports line. In 2020, the segment was responsible for foreign sales reaching the amount of US$ 100.8 billion, 4% more than the amount accounted in the previous year. The most significant of these products were soybeans (28.3% of the total), fresh beef (7.4%), and raw sugar of cane (7.35%).

Positive perspectives

The program of the forum aimed to offer to the participants an overview of the main factors related to Brazilian agribusiness, with a particular focus on the business potential between Brazil and Canada. The first day (May 18th ) was specifically focused on the relations between the two countries in terms of agriculture and livestock, including bilateral trade and investment opportunities. The event was opened by the chairman of the BCCC Board and partner at KPMG Canada, Daniel Ricica, and by the president of CCBC, Ronaldo Ramos. Subsequently, the Brazilian Ambassador to Canada, Pedro Borio, called for the construction of a productive partnership between the two countries in the agricultural sector.

The role of agribusiness for the Brazilian and Canadian economies was mentioned by the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply), Tereza Cristina, through a recorded message especially sent for the event. “With the perspective of overcoming the current challenges due to the pandemic scenario, we must search to resume the plans that have been dormant, look for new opportunities to grow, and achieve the post-Covid recovery. Brazil and Canada are countries with a lot in common. We have a diverse population, a large territorial extension, and we share values such as freedom and democracy. Furthermore, agriculture plays a fundamental role in our economies. We are partners in the mission of feeding the world, with the generation of jobs and income for our rural producers”, she stated. “The trade of agricultural products between our countries is still below its full potential. Hence the importance of events like this one, in which we can learn a little more about the business opportunities between the two countries, in this dynamic, challenging and inspiring segment”.

Also participating were the Commercial & Economic Counsellor and Head of Commercial Section at the Embassy of Canada in Brasilia, Bonny Berger; the Acting Director-General, Market Access Secretariat of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Luc Rivard; the Agriculture Attaché at the Embassy of Brazil in Canada, Paulo Araújo; the President for the Americas of the JBS group, Wesley Batista Filho, and the Regional Leader for Latin America at Nutrien, André Dias.

Natural partners

The relations between the two countries were examined in depth in the following session (May 25th ), with speeches by the Head of International Relations at (Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock), Lígia Dutra; the CEO of InterPOC – Global Trade and Investment, Gustavo Zentner, and the Senior Professor of Global Agribusiness at Insper, Marcos Jank. “Brazil and Canada have competitive advantages in the agricultural sector. The two countries are not rival in the international market, but complementary”, evaluated the latter, when pointing out areas in which the two countries could have closer collaboration, such as in strengthening the World Trade Organization (WTO), in scientific exchange, and in building integrated value chains aimed at global challenges, in terms of food security.

The next part of the session showcased some success stories from Brazilian and Canadian companies, with testimonials from executives Marcelo Corrêa (CEO of Marcelo Correa Consulting), Flávio Ferreira (CEO of BR4 Trade Corporation), Rob O’Sullivan (Vice President of Sales for the Americas at Clearwater Seafoods) and Sydney Bratt (General Manager of Gourmand Alimentos). In the sequence, the logistical challenges for importers and exporters were the subject of a debate among the Sales Marketing Manager of DN+ International Logistics, John Kirkup, the Executive Director of CIFFA, Bruce Rodgers, and the Cargo Development Manager of Port of Saint John, Shannon Blanchard.

The day’s closing remarks were delivered by Margaret Johnson, Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries of the province of New Brunswick. “Our province has a highly diversified agricultural segment, and exports to 75 countries, including Brazil. We can certainly increase the volume of exports of some of the products we sell to the Brazilian market”, she commented.

Technology and sustainability

The third day (May 26th ) focused on the opportunities brought by technology to agricultural activities, through products and solutions developed by startups operating in the segment (the so-called agritechs) or by the cooperation of research agencies. Among the participants were the Partner for the Agribusiness Market at KPMG Brasil, Giovana Araújo, Coordinator of Virtual Lab Abroad (Labex-USA)  at Embrapa, Alexandre Varella; Vice Consul and Trade Commissioner ISC at the Consulate of Canada in São Paulo, Marie-Helene Beland; Industrial Technology Advisor IRAP  at the National Research Council (NRC), Ronda Gosselin; the Advisor to the President of Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa e Inovação Industrial (Embrapii), responsible for international cooperation actions, Denise Neddermeyer; the Deputy Coordinator of Research for Innovation at Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (Fapesp), Luciana Hashiba; Founder of Bionergy Consulting, Marco Ripolli; Executive Director at Agrihub, Otávio Celidono; Professor at EsalqTec, Sérgio Pascholati; Partner of SPVentures, Ariadne Caballero; CEO and Co-founder of LWR, Karen Schuett; Founder of Fabrique A, Sylvain Ethier; Director of Zone Agtech, Olivier Demers-Dubé; and the partner at Cescon Barrieu, Luiz Felipe Di Sessa.

The growing importance of sustainability was debated on the fourth and last day of the forum (June 2nd). The main challenges of the agricultural and livestock segment, in following standards aligned to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, were discussed throughout the session by the director of sustainability at Proactiva, Dulce Meldau Benke; the Special Advisor for Social and Environmental Issues at the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, João Adrien; Principal Economist at Export Development Canada (EDC), Andrea Gardella; Director at Climate Policy Initiative, Juliano Assunção; Executive Director of Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (Ipam), André Guimarães; Director of Sustainability at Consumer Goods Forum, Ignacio Gavilan; Executive Director of Conexsus, Carina Pimenta; Director of Policy and Institutional Relations at BVRio Institute, Beto Mesquita; Manager at Cocoa Action, Pedro Ronca; President of Mandala Group, Paola Saad; Partner at Cescon Barrieu, Luciano Souza, and Partner, Environmental Law at BMA Law, Márcio Pereira.

All the presentations of the 1st Brazil-Canada Agriculture Forum can be accessed at  BCCC’s site.