In his second stint in Brazil, the diplomat intends to make a personal commitment to broaden the bilateral approach in several segments
By Estela Cangerana
Since the second half of 2020, the Consulate General of Canada in Rio de Janeiro has been led by diplomat David Verbiwski. He replaces Evelyne Coloumbe, who was in office since 2017. In his second stint in Brazil, the new Consul General hopes to use his experience in the country to strongly support the strengthening of bilateral relations in all its fields, whether among companies, citizens, or governments.
The business and investment areas, the support for Canadians in Brazil, and common projects between governments, especially on human rights and diversity issues, are on the diplomat’s radar during his administration. “We are here to help companies expand their business. But our job goes beyond the trade and encompasses all the possibilities of proximity”, he affirms.
According to Verbiwski, Covid-19 is an extra challenge, but one that should not hinder the evolution of the projects. “We are living in a unique time of the pandemic, which has changed the way in which we work. But we have adapted to the new ways of working and continue to seek excellence in service. Our team has developed models of online business missions, webinars, and established virtual connections in B2B meetings”, he explains.
“Although we all agree that face-to-face meetings are preferable, there are some clear benefits in online events: without the need for travel, we have seen more Canadian and Brazilian companies participating in business meetings and creating connections. One of our priorities will be to continue looking for innovative ways to connect Canada and Brazil,” he concludes.
Among the themes on which the Consul General should focus is the bilateral approach in the area of art and culture. “Our two countries have many things to share and it is through the arts and culture that we express our values on diversity, inclusion, human rights, and the environment. I look forward to building connections in this area”. The year 2021, in particular, will still bring the celebrations of an important date: the 80th anniversary of Canada-Brazil diplomatic relations, a milestone that should be celebrated with a schedule of events throughout the year.
Affinity with the Country
David Verbiwski holds an extensive knowledge of the national market and a great relationship with members of the private initiative and public segment, which was acquired during his first mission in Brazil. From 2005 to 2009, he was manager of the commercial program at the Consulate General of Canada in São Paulo. The experience should contribute to the achievement of the current objectives. “However, I am keeping my eyes open to the fact that things have changed and that I need to look at the relationship between our countries based on its future potential. What I see are two countries that have a lot in common. What we need to do is identify and strengthen these areas of shared vision for the benefit of both sides,” he states.
The diplomat still has strong family ties in the country. He is married to a Brazilian woman from São Paulo, with whom he has a four-year-old daughter. “I am so pleased to be here. Personally, I can say that it is exciting to be back in Brazil with my family”.
At the Rio de Janeiro Consulate, Verbiwiski will also be responsible for the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo, places he intends to visit regularly, as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic situation allows. The three states together account for about 25% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
To follow this significant economic activity, the Consul General highlights the local structure of the Canadian government, with a committed team of trade commissioners and the provision of a full range of services, whether for export market development, attracting investment to Canada, facilitating Canadians investments in Brazil, or fostering bilateral links in innovation, science, and technology.
In Rio de Janeiro, some of the most prominent segments of bilateral business are oil and gas, energy (including renewables), ocean technologies, education, cultural industries, and tourism. In Minas Gerais, mining and education are also truly relevant.
David Verbiwski holds a BA in Physics from Bishop University and worked in the private segment in Indonesia and natural resources in Canada, before entering the diplomatic career in 2001. Since then, he has held several positions abroad including trade commissioner in Jakarta, Indonesia (from 2002 to 2005), trade program manager in Sao Paulo, Brazil (from 2005 to 2009), senior regional trade commissioner for East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya (2010 to 2013) and trade advisor in Havana, Cuba (2014 to 2018). Until taking the lead of the Consulate in Rio de Janeiro, Verbiwski served as deputy director responsible for nuclear compliance and cooperation in the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, in Ottawa.