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Cablegate: The Ambassador's Meetings with Bndes and Firjan

VZCZCXRO6703
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHRI #0455/01 2541137
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111137Z SEP 06
FM AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2784
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9214
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 4242
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 2621
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RIO DE JANEIRO 000455

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

WHA/BSC, WHA/EPSC, EB/ENR
STATE PASS USAID FOR LAC
STATE PASS OPIC FOR HOSTETLER
NSC FOR FEARS
TREASURY FOR OASIA - J.HOEK
STATE PASS TO FED BOARD OF GOVERNORS FOR ROBITAILLE
USDOC FOR 4332/ITA/MAC/WH/OLAC/JANDERSEN/ADRISCOLL/MWAR D
USDOC FOR 3134/ITA/USCS/OIO/WH/RD/SHUPKA

E.O.12958:N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV ETRD ENRG PGOV BR
SUBJECT: THE AMBASSADOR'S MEETINGS WITH BNDES AND FIRJAN


Summary
-------

1. Ambassador Sobel, accompanied by the CG, Principal Commercial
Officer, and Conoff met on August 21, with the President and senior
officials of the Brazilian National Economic and Social Development
Bank (BNDES), a federal agency which is the chief source of
long-term funding for projects to promote Brazilian development.
Discussion centered on BNDES' role in shaping Brazilian economic
development, job creation, the promotion of innovation and
productivity through investment, and areas where coincident U.S. and
Brazilian interests could increase trade and investment. The BNDES
leadership identified four priorities areas for further exchange and
action: exchanging ideas and contacts for technological innovation,
social investment opportunities, Small Business Administration
contact and program information, and venture capital possibilities.


2. Afterwards, Ambassador Sobel attended a luncheon hosted by the
Board of Directors of the Federation of Industries of Rio de Janeiro
(FIRJAN), the principal trade association and lobby for the state's
industrial companies and a prominent sounding board on social and
economic growth issues affecting the state of Rio de Janeiro.
There, the discussion covered a range of topics, including progress
in the US-Brazil trading relationship, and ways to further contacts
among institutions and experts involved in areas of mutual interest.
End Summary.

BNDES
-----

3. BNDES President Demian Fiocca told the Ambassador during their
August 21 meeting that BNDES made a priority of promoting trade,
particularly in new areas which are strategically important but not
yet economically viable, such as biofuels and renewable energy.
Ambassador Sobel commented on the crucial role small and
medium-sized businesses (SMEs) play in job creation, citing
cooperative activities initiated by the USG's Small Business
Administration in Mexico. Fiocca described the mechanism through
which BNDES provides incentives to retail banks, its primary
customers, to support SMEs, assigning lending targets (a percentage
of business) the banks must reach to qualify for higher credit
limits.

Investment Funds to Support Innovation
--------------------------------------

4. Responding to Ambassador Sobel's question on BNDES programs to
promote innovation and productivity, Dr. Marcos Pinto, the Chief of
Staff for Public Private Partnerships, and Dr. Francesco Sirangelo,
Senior Advisor to Mr. Fiocca, described the BNDES investment funds
which support innovative private sector companies. At present,
BNDES has two venture capital funds and four private equity funds;
it is planning to create a seed money fund as well. Dr. Pinto noted
that the funds are under private sector management, and that some of
the funds included investment by private sector entities as well as
by BNDES. All companies in Brazil are eligible for these funds -
Brazilian and non-Brazilian (including U.S. companies).

PPPs and Social Inclusion - Limited Progress
--------------------------------------------

5. In a discussion of the evolution of public-private partnerships
(PPPs), Fiocca and Pinto described delays arising from Brazil's
public financing law, noting that BNDES was trying to speed up
progress, at least at the federal level. Fiocca expressed hope that
the federal government would make reforming the process a priority
after the October elections.

6. In response to the Ambassador's query, Fiocca said that BNDES
offered specific low interest loans (prime rate plus zero percent)
to the companies it finances. These loans are designed specifically
for social projects to help companies' employees and their families,
or for the local community.


BNDES' Role in Public Policy and Biofuels Industry
--------------------------------------------- -----

RIO DE JAN 00000455 002 OF 002

7. Fiocca also explained BNDES' role in public policy. Citing
ethanol as an example, he outlined that, to develop this industry
further, his Director of Planning is studying industry
recommendations and is developing proposals to prepare Brazil to
enter the world market, ensure the stability of supply, and develop
infrastructure with technological input and investments from other
countries. With regard the energy sector as a whole, BNDES has
increased financing for ethanol production and cogeneration for
electricity in the last few years, and is investing in refineries.
In addition, BNDES is financing a recently approved biodiesel
development plan.

Opportunities and Areas for Further Cooperation
--------------------------------------------- --

8. Ambassador Sobel concluded the discussions by noting the critical
need to address "pocketbook issues" between the U.S. and Brazil,
stressing that increased trade and investment would form the basis
of deeper cooperation and stronger relations. He outlined several
opportunities for sharing expertise and furthering mutual interests:
biofuels, working with the IFC, securitization of mortgages through
OPIC, supporting and promoting social development working through
the Ministry of Education and the U.S. Competitiveness Council to
bring together corporations and universities to stimulate innovation
and entrepreneurship, as well as encouraging both public and
private organizations to come to Brazil to explore future exchanges.


9. The meeting concluded with the BNDES leadership identifying what
they viewed as four areas for further discussion and action between
the U.S. and Brazil: innovation strategy, social investment
opportunities, SME financing, and venture capital funds.

Federation of Industries of Rio de Janeiro (FIRJAN)
--------------------------------------------- ------

10. The Ambassador then attended a luncheon hosted by the Board of
the Federation of Industries of Rio de Janeiro (FIRJAN). The
Ambassador and Carlos Mariani Bittencourt (Chairman of the Board of
PIN Petroquimica SA, also a member of the BNDES Board) opened the
discussion by recalling the recent positive changes in the
U.S.-Brazil trade and investment climates. For example, Brazil's
investments in the United States are increasing - Fundacao Odebrecht
is building the new airport in Miami, and Petrobras recently
invested in oil blocks in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pasadena
Refinery in Houston. In addition, Brazil now ranks third among
countries with companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

11. In discussing ways to enhance U.S.-Brazil trade and investment,
Ambassador Sobel encouraged the FIRJAN members to press the GOB,
through their companies, to negotiate a tax treaty between the U.S.
and Brazil and eliminate the current double-taxation both Brazilian
and U.S. companies suffer by doing business in both countries. The
Ambassador and the FIRJAN board agreed to pursue various ways for
Brazilian and American institutions to work together, including
working through BNDES, developing a biofuels experts group,
increasing private company/ university collaboration, and creating a
private sector leaders group.

12. This cable was cleared by Ambassador Sobel and Embassy
Brasilia.

MARTINEZ

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