Thursday, 6 October 2011

EPC EU-Brazil Post-Summit Briefing

I’ll start with a confession. I didn’t stay for the whole event, there was a conference on Catalan SME strategy across the street, it needed going to. Had there not been a Catalan SME conference across the street, I would have been tempted to cross the street anyway; I don’t do “can’t do” capitalism.

The Brussels-based European Policy Centre is a noble enterprise; they bring together great minds and deep experience. The EU-Brazil Business Summit, Post-Summit Briefing was as snappy as its title, and there was no coffee beforehand to keep pulses racing. The panellists were thoughtful, and their points were based on experience; but in an age when viable export opportunities are limited and every open market should be embraced, the panel just weren’t showing Brazil the love it deserves. 

Put simply, the panel weren’t American. They were largely Northern European, and oozing all the enthusiasm for change that a Saville Row tailor can muster for Mumbai sweat-shop factory fabrics. “Brazil,” went the sentiment, “if only they would fix everything first, then we could do business.”

The reality check came from Embraer’s President for Europe, Luiz Fernando Fuchs. Fuchs took the American approach and used the occasion to showcase his company, his products, and their incredible journey from corporate basket-case to quality-driven, ambitious, aircraft manufacturer. Thanks Luiz, you made my morning!

The complaints from the panel went along the lines of: the tax system, Brazil’s tax system, oh, the tax system…. Enough. Hire smarter people. Work the system. If you don’t, the Brazilians will, the Chinese will, the Indians will. They are more American.

Can do? Yes. Can do better Europe. Stretch or starve.

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