Several AIM-member companies met yesterday with Brazil’s energy secretary as electricity and education dominated the first day of the Massachusetts trade mission to the world’s seventh largest economy.
Executives from Madico of Woburn, Heat Trace Products of Leominster, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute spent a portion of the day meeting in Brasilia with Edson Lobao, Brazil’s Secretary of Education and Mines. Labao and other officials say that Brazil’s five percent economic growth rate is expected to double the country’s need for electric capacity in the next decade.
Brazil shares with Massachusetts the goal of moving to renewable sources of power, but the transition has so far been a slow one.
In the meantime, newly discovered oil reserves offshore represent a potential economic bonanza for Brazil and its trading partners. Officials say that plans to extract the oil offer great opportunities for US companies that can provide drilling equipment, monitoring equipment, spillage protection, pipes and other products.
Thomas Shannon, US Ambassador to Brazil, told the delegation that Brazil is "open for business" and positively inclined toward Massachusetts. Governor Deval Patrick has also stressed throughout his South American trip that Massachusetts and Brazil have much in common and are already major trading partners, with the Bay State sending $396 million worth of manufactured goods to Brazil last year.
Brazil’s policy of social inclusion – using economic growth to raise people from poverty to the middleclass – is likely to expand that trading relationship. Officials say the nation is in desperate need of "more of everything," from skilled workers to infrastructure to research-and-development investment as it becomes one of the world’s developing economic powers.
Another potential boon for Massachusetts and its strong base of universities is a plan by the Brazilian government to send, and pay for, 100,000 students to study abroad over next five years. Details are still being developed.
Cultural exchange - At a press conference with Brazilian Senate President and Governor Patrick, the hosts ended the session by presenting the governor with a “special song” and piped the 1967 Bee Gees tune Massachusetts through the loudspeakers.
You don’t see this on Beacon Hill - At 6 p.m., an honor guard of nine Brazilian soldiers in dress uniform marched in formation in front of the presidential palace to lower the flags. As the Brazilian flag came down, and a soldier played the Brazilian version of taps, an ostrich walked across the lawn of the palace and drank out of the reflecting pool right next to the flagpoles.