Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick unveiled Wednesday the
details of his trading mission trip to Brazil. Patrick is following the
footsteps of 15 U.S. Governors, including Rick Scott, of Florida, and Tim Pawlenty, of Minnesota, who visited Brazil in the past three years.
Called Innovation Economy Mission, the Governor will visit Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, and companies and universities in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo between Dec. 4-9.
“The trip will be focused on creating jobs in Massachusetts in life sciences, information technology, clean energy, and education,” said Patrick during a press conference held at the Governor’s office Wednesday.
There will be three delegations going to Brazil, the government delegation with the Governor plus 11 officials; an academic and cultural delegation with 12 educational professionals, including UMass President Dr. Robert Caret and Museum of Fine Arts Assistant Curator Dennis Carr; and a business delegation, with 29 executives, 13 of them are company CEOs.
Prior to landing at the Brazilian cities, Governor Patrick will head a smaller
delegation that will stop by Santiago, Chile, on Dec. 1.. The visit was a request of the country’s President Sebastian Piñera, and will also have the
goal of advancing partnership opportunities in the innovation economy.
During the press conference, Kenneth Brown, executive director of Massachusetts Office of International Trade & Investment, clarified the trip won’t be paid with taxpayers’ resources.
“We divide the overall budget in the number of folks on the trip, and each is
responsible for their share. With regards to public officials, we developed a
trust to allow private industry to help fund and promote Massachusetts (abroad),” said Brown, who will be part of the government delegation.
Framingham Patch asked the governor how the Brazilian workers will take advantage of his trip to Brazil.
“First of Brazilian workers are important as all others are important to me. We’re trying to create jobs across the board. Eighty-five percent of the companies in Massachusetts are small, with 50 employees or fewer. You know the entrepreneurial tradition in the Brazilian community, and frankly there’s a greater proportion in small companies doing businesses overseas. So, we want to identify opportunities for all businesses here in Massachusetts to invest in Brazil, and vice-versa,” said the Governor, who added: “who will take advantage of that, the market will tell.”
Marcony Almeida, editor of Brazilian Magazine, reminded the Governor roughly 60 percent of Massachusetts Brazilian community comes from Minas Gerais, a southeast state neighboring Rio de Janeiro, and asked why not visit Minas Gerais.
The Governor explained that as the capital, Brasilia falls in the trip as a matter protocol to spend some time there. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are important commercial centers, “not to diminish the importance of the community here.”
Brown added it is simply a matter of time. He personally advocated a visit to Recife, capital of Pernambuco, a northeast state n Brazil, which has a growing gasoline and civil construction sectors.
Governor Patrick said Brazil was chosen because “Brazil has largest middle class growth anywhere in the world.” However, Patrick said, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other important countries to Massachusetts, citing Israel and the U.K.
In fact, in 2010 bilateral trade between Massachusetts and Brazil toppled $475 million, with more than $396 million in exports going to Brazil and about $80 million in Brazilian imports to Massachusetts. This year, the Bay State’s exports to Brazil are already up 31 percent.
“Capital is global, labor is not. It’s one of the reasons why we have many
immigration challenges. We haven’t quite figured out how to enable people to move as freely around the world as capital does,” said the Governor.
Marcelo Zicker, editor of Brazilian Times, cited the intent of Florida Governor Rick Scott, to abolish the need for Brazilian tourists to get visa to enter the U.S. – last year more than 500,000 Brazilians paid trips to Florida. Zicker inquired if Patrick thinks that such a policy would also boost the Massachusetts economy.
“We really believe in the importance of cultivating a global economy. But, without being an expert on the visa waiver program, I think any comprehension immigration fix has to come from Congress,” the Governor said.
At the end of the conference, Ilma Paixão, general manager Framingham’s radio station WSRO, said at least 10 percent of all Brazilians, who settled in Massachusetts are American citizens, and many are going back to Brazil.
“We’ve had a great business relationship with Massachusetts, and now that we also have many Americans living in Brazil, we need to step up this relation to a second level, and I truly appreciate what your administration is doing,” said Paixão.
To which the Governor replied: “we’ll talk again when I get back home.”