Ambassador: Brazil and Azerbaijan have several lines of mutual priorities
Azerbaijan, Baku, April 20 /Trend, E.Mehdiyev/
Brazil and Azerbaijan have several cooperative areas of priority, newly appointed Brazilian ambassador to Azerbaijan Sergio Arruda said in an interview with Trend.
"I think three or four lines of priorities naturally emerge following my initial conversations at the highest level with Azerbaijani authorities. Brazil has areas which are essential in this fascinating process of economic and social development of Azerbaijan," said the ambassador.
The ambassador said that Brazil and Azerbaijan have blossomed with huge reserves of oil and gas.
"Of course Azerbaijan has a 150-year old tradition in the development of these resources, but Brazil joined this process some 60 years ago, developed endogenally the best deep-sea technology among oil producing countries and is now using it in the exploitation of its recently found, huge offshore pre-salt reserves. So, on both sides, in Azerbaijan and Brazil, our governments consider that a partnership may be established in the near future between the Azerbaijan State Oil Company (SOCAR) and Brazil's biggest oil and gas producer, Petrobrás," Sergio Arruda stated.
He added this may touch on a number of fields as both countries have top professional and academic centres.
"So, highly specialised technicians could certainly benefit mutually from their joint experiences," said the ambassador.
The diplomat said that Brazil has also a world leadership position when it comes to to the strategic area of renewable energy, being among the top players and boasting of the cleanest energy matrix worldwide.
"In this connection, I think there is a potential in the field of hydroelectric projects, where Brazil has a solid experience and would be most willing to share it with Azerbaijan," the ambassador said.
Sergio Arruda added that Azerbaijan and Brazil can cooperate not only in oil and gas and renewable energy, but in other sectors as well.
"We understand that because of the pace of Azerbaijan's development the country is investing heavily in infrastructural projects, which is another natural line of cooperation with Brazil. Over the last 10 years, Brazil has also been investing significantly in economic and social programmes," the ambassador said.
He noted that ambitious projects on infrastructure, housing, transport, airports and ports are underway both in Azerbaijan and in Brazil. So, it is natural that a group of Brazilian leading corporations, already with a large portfolio of activities abroad, look very attentively at what is going on in Azerbaijan and hope to become partners, he added.
"At our first meeting, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev very kindly offered to advance the prospects of such partnerships. He alluded not only to oil and gas, but infrastructural works, public transportation, tourism and information technology as well," said the ambassador.
He agrees that these should be priorities in the economic and commercial front: to put together key operators of both countries, from oil and gas to information technology, civil construction and public transport, and make them partners in the achievement of common goals.
The ambassador mentioned that another crucial area that Brazil is very much committed to working with Azerbaijan is humanitarian assistance, food security and family farming.
"I have in mind the plight of the hundreds of thousands of displaced families in Azerbaijan over the last two decades because of the unfortunate events in Nagorno-Karabakh," said the diplomat.
He recalled that Brazil has recently developed and is reputed to have one of the most successful approaches to equate the very serious problem of food security by providing families with the knowledge to develop their own agricultural plots.
The ambassador also recalled that the present Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation José Graziano da Silva, who is in Baku for the ongoing FAO's European Regional Conference, is a Brazilian national.
Back in 2003, he was the Extraordinary Minister for Food Security under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who implemented the Fome Zero national programme. The programme was such an unprecedented success that it became a kind of mantra for other developing countries and, a decade later, a handful of them managed to have it adapted to their own national circumstances and replicated locally.
"And I understand that Professor Graziano brought the same generous vision to FAO," he said.
The ambassador pointed out that some basic fact finding work in this connection is now complete.
"The Brazilian and Azerbaijani governments and the FAO have already held a number of technical preparatory discussions and things seem to be getting riper in terms of making a pilot scheme project feasible," the diplomat stated.
He said that Brazil, Azerbaijan and FAO can work on a trilateral scheme towards the resolution of this serious problem.
"This is because whenever and wherever the beneficiaries of this assistance gain knowledge, they can operate either here or - hopefully sooner than later - back in their traditional lands. So, this is another interesting and promising development in the economic and social front, where Brazil would very much like to bring its contribution to the solution of a problem which is very sensitive for Azerbaijan," the diplomat said.
Touching upon the commercial and economic dimensions of the bilateral exchanges between Brazil and Azerbaijan, the ambassador admitted that presently the actual figures of the bilateral trade are still modest, a situation he attributed to a number of logistical constraints.
"Azerbaijan is landlocked in a certain way, which makes it not so easy to access this market by Brazilian exporters. However, I would say there is potential for a dramatic and rapid change of this picture if we look not exclusively at goods, but also at services and investments," the diplomat said.
In this respect, he added that there is certainly substantial room for future partnerships between Brazilian and local companies in a good number of Azerbaijan's infrastructural projects.
"I imagine part of this partnership may even turn into the opening of offices in Baku by a few of the most efficient Brazilian operators, as the first step in the long march towards establishing linkages with key economic players in Azerbaijan," said the diplomat.
He said that this will smooth out the way to future joint ventures.
"I would say that if you look ahead to the next five years or so, a good number of these possibilities will have developed into concrete business, joint ventures and partnerships which will, in turn, generate a much higher volume of bilateral exchanges not only in products, but also in terms of investments and services. I am sure that this trend will be substantially strengthened by the presence of the Azerbaijani embassy in Brazil," he concluded.