Personality of the Year Awards: Ambassador’s speech

Embassy of Brazil, Ambassador Eduardo dos Santos

Embassy of Brazil , Marcio Borlenghi Fasano , Ambassador Eduardo dos Santos

Gala Dinner 2017 ‘Personality of the Year’ Awards

Speech by Ambassador Eduardo dos Santos on 4 October 2017.

His Excellency, Mr Fernando Coelho Filho, Minister of Mining and Energy of Brazil;

  • Mr Pedro Pullen Parente, CEO of Petrobras S.A.,
  • Mr Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell plc,
  • Mr Eduardo Refinetti Guardia, Executive Secretary of Finance of Brazil
  • Mr. Alistair Harrison, Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps,

My Lords, ladies and gentleman,

I am honoured to co-host with my dear friend Sergio Gullo, Chairman of the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, the 2017 ‘Personality of the Year’ Dinner.

This is the second time I have the opportunity to speak at the gala dinner as Ambassador of Brazil to the United Kingdom. When I made my speech in May 2016 the situation in Brazil was quite different from what it is now.

Even tough, at that time I said that in spite of the harsh challenges Brazil was facing I was confident that our country would come through them in a better shape. A little more than a year later, I am positive that Brazil has turned over that difficult page.

Just to mention a few facts. In May 2016 inflation was at 9.3%; now it is at 2.4% – a sharp fall. GDP was decreasing at a fast rate, leading to the worst economic recession in our history. Now, GDP has started to grow again. The most recent estimate from the Brazilian Central Bank is that it will grow 0.7% this year and for next year between 2 and 3% – good prospects indeed.

In May 2016, Brazil was going through a difficult political moment, with an impeachment process in course. Even though, our political institutions were resilient and the rule of law prevailed. In brief, democracy in Brazil is alive and well.

For sure, we still need major reforms in Brazil, political and economic. And they are under way. The government has been able to pass important pieces of legislation in Congress such as the reform of the labour law and the much-needed cap for public expenditure.

A few days ago, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles visited London and spoke to different groups about the restructuring going on in Brazil and the positive results already achieved in such a short period of time.

Tonight we have the honour to count with the presence of Mr Fernando Coelho Filho, the Brazilian Minister for Mining and Energy. His portfolio comprises the sector of oil and gas which is also going through important changes. Reforms in this vital sector are increasingly calling the attention of investors and of the business community to the exploration of pre-salt oil fields in our country.

The business community have been playing a fundamental role in overcoming the political and economic challenges faced by Brazil. The private sector – I also would like to remember – has contributed significantly to strengthen trade between our countries. In this regard, we appreciate the engagement of the private sector with the European Commission in favour of the trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union. This agreement may lay the foundation for a future post-Brexit trade deal between Mercosur and the UK.

This year’s awards recognise the work of two individuals who have not only tremendously helped to rekindle our economy but also gave full support to the economic partnership between Brazil and the United Kingdom.

Pedro Parente was appointed CEO of Petrobras in 2016. Since then he has been in London quite a few times, a fact that implies an important understanding that the United Kingdom is a key player in the oil and gas sector.

When Pedro Parente took over his role at Petrobras, the company was going through a challenging moment for different reasons. The reliability and working capacity he brought with him were certainly key elements in the recovery of Petrobras, which is now duly on track. The positive changes are reflected in the upturn of the share price of the company, which almost doubled since he took office. Pedro Parente is a professional with extensive experience in both private and public sectors, having been Chief of Staff of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

His contribution to the success of Petrobras, the largest Brazilian company, deserves the highest recognition.

Ben van Beurden became CEO of Shell in 2014. Since then, the company – whose presence in Brazil dates back over a hundred years – has substantially increased its stake in the country. With the takeover of BG Group in 2015, Shell became Brazil’s largest foreign investor and an important partner in the exploration of pre-salt oil fields. Van Beurden is now bringing Shell’s longstanding presence in the country to new levels with recent announcements of further investments, which will broaden economic relations between Brazil and the United Kingdom. For that, we would like to pay tribute to him.

2017`s choice of the Personalities of the Year is particularly fortunate, since Brazil and the United Kingdom are close partners in the oil and gas sector. There are over 200 British firms operating in the Brazilian oil and gas industry. I was very much pleased to read in the news a couple of weeks ago that Petrobras and Shell have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a long-term mutual collaboration in developing pre-salt oil fields in Brazil. Congratulations and I wish this partnership to prosper for the benefit of our two countries.

I close my remarks by wishing you all a very pleasant evening.

Thank you very much!

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