Heather Cameron, Consul General of São Paulo, and David Verbiwski, Consul General of Rio de Janeiro, reflect on challenges and achievements of their tenures
By Alessandra Taraborelli
During a meeting of the Committee on Economic Affairs (CAE) at CCBC in São Paulo, the Consul General of São Paulo, Heather Cameron, and the Consul General of Rio de Janeiro, David Verbiwski, expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to have served in Brazil over the past four years and delivered their farewell speeches. Their positions will be assumed by Caroline Charette in São Paulo and François Jubinville in Rio de Janeiro.
Heather thanked for her time as Consul General in São Paulo and recalled the difficulties and challenges posed mainly by the pandemic. “It was gratifying to strengthen the relationship between the institutions that represent Canada, such as the CCBC, BCCC, Bureau du Québec, Brazilian partners and commercial centers in the Brazilian states. The committees were important in showcasing the economic potential of different regions of Brazil and bringing Brazilian and Canadian entrepreneurs closer together, especially at a time when Brazil faced a phase of negative attention, requiring innovative solutions and direct engagement with state governments,” she reflected.
Heather pointed to sustainable development as the most important theme among the actions of her tenure, which will continue to guide future agreements between Canada and Brazil, especially with state governments. She also emphasized the importance of the events and missions carried out by the CCBC for the exchange of experiences between members, associates and businesspeople from all over Brazil, for the development of economic and sustainable relations between Brazil and Canada and for complex and immediate actions.
“Canada has experienced around 300 forest fires, events with economic effects that require plans for the population to evacuate cities safely and international cooperation. The province of Alberta relied on the work and support of Brazilian firefighters, who were fundamental in controlling the fires,” she noted. The field of forestry economics will gain prominence in the coming years, according to Heather. She mentioned a planned visit by a delegation of Brazilian businessmen and experts to the province of Québec to assess opportunities in the forestry economy. Heather also commented on the expectation of interest rate reductions in Canada and Brazil, key factors for defining future agreements between the two countries.
David Verbiwski recalled his arrival in Brazil at the beginning of the pandemic and the difficulties and challenges of that period. “I arrived in late October 2020, and it was a strange experience. I was on the second flight from Canada to Brazil, when flights between the two countries resumed. In Canada, the airport was empty and when I arrived in Rio de Janeiro life seemed a bit more normal, with people on the beach, restaurants operating. It was a different moment in the way the two countries were experiencing the pandemic,” he remembered.
Verbiwski stated that despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, with the help of CCBC’s structure and other partners in Brazil he managed to strengthen and establish business relationships between Canadian and Brazilian companies. “Additionally, we were in the midst of Brazil’s elections, and everyone was waiting for the result to make decisions. We were able to develop and strengthen relationships with the new government’s teams in the areas of natural resources, mining and oil,” he said.
He highlighted the significance of Canadian and Brazilian delegations’ participation in numerous events related to natural resources, such as oil and mining, in Brazil and Canada during the period. “We have managed to bring Brazilian and Canadian companies closer together through delegations at events in both countries. And this process will continue. We will have a delegation taking part in the Petroleum Congress at the Canadian Global Energy Forum in September in Calgary, Canada; in September, Brazil will host 20 energy sector companies to exchange experiences and evaluate new business with Brazilian companies,” he recalled.
Verbiwski emphasized commercial exchanges in mining areas, such as the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), which took place in Toronto in March this year, and the participation of delegations in events related to the environment. He also recalled important agreements made during his tenure, such as the opening of a new CCBC chapter in Belo Horizonte, and the joint work between CCBC’s diversity and inclusion committee and the area formed within diplomatic missions in Brazil. “There were numerous projects, all successful, with a focus on Brazilian investments from the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais in Canada and vice versa. Additionally, the visits of governors and state leaders are very important. The governor of Espírito Santo will visit Canada in September and we are exploring an opportunity for the governor of Rio de Janeiro to visit Canada, as he has already expressed interest”, he summarized.