The top trade official for Santa Catarina, Brazil, has signed agreements with the Bay Area and the Northern California world trade center organizations in an effort to increase international commerce between his country and California.
During trade mission activities organized by California State University, Hayward and its partner, the Brazil-based Chamber of International Business, executive directors for the Bay Area and the Northern California world trade centers signed cooperation agreements with Armando Hess De Souza, secretary of planning, budget and management for the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina.
“International trade through the state of Santa Catarina is essential to the economy of Brazil, just as California’s international business is vital to the United States,” said Shyam Kamath, international business economist and executive director of Cal State Hayward’s Transnational Executive MBA Program.
“These two states have so much in common that it was only natural that they jumped at the chance to have trade representatives brought together.”
With officials from the university and its partner, the International Chamber of Business, looking on, the agreement with the Bay Area World Trade Center was signed in Oakland on Oct. 18, and the pact with the Northern California World Trade Center was signed in a ceremony at the state capitol in Sacramento on Oct. 21.
“Several years ago Santa Catarina recognized that it had to make improvements in its infrastructure and its ports to match its competitive advantages in the cost of labor and materials,” said Jose Duenas, CEO and president of the Bay Area World Trade Center.
“Much of Brazil’s trade to the United States goes through Miami, but improvements that have been made in Santa Catarina have helped it overcome logistical costs and could create a lot of opportunities in California for its companies.
“And it opens up opportunities for California businesses in Santa Catarina as well.”
Duenas said that continued improvements in reducing delivery costs could lead to increased exports to California of Brazilian products such as hardwoods, furniture, textiles, clothing and shoes. He said California products with potential in Brazil include wine, food and information technology.
Three days after signing the Oct. 18 agreement in Oakland, the Brazilian delegation and its Cal State Hayward hosts were in Sacramento, meeting with Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Undersecretary Barry Sedlik, and officials from the Northern California World Trade Center, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Senate International Relations Office.
The agreement was signed in a room near the capitol rotunda during a ceremony hosted by California state Sen. Tom Torlakson.
“There is great potential here for bilateral trade, and not just because there are so many similarities between California and Santa Catarina,” Torlakson told De Souza at the signing ceremony. “The California economy needs many partners in international trade if it’s going to continue to grow.”
“This is more than just a paper signing,” said Brooks Ohlson, executive director of the Northern California World Trade Center, after signing the Sacramento agreement.
“Using universities, government agencies and our staff to help bring companies in both countries together is a natural success formula.”
“These agreements should have great economic results for both of our countries,” added Michael Liikala, director of international strategic alliances for the U.S. Commercial Services, who attended the ceremony on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“We’re interested in working with Santa Catarina for ways to influence tourism, investment and trade between our countries.”
The agreements between Santa Catarina and the world trade centers call for the partners to participate in strategic counseling, joint promotion and marketing, and arranging trade missions and conferences to allow companies to penetrate the Brazilian and California markets.
“Now, we have a joint responsibility to make things happen,” De Souza said. “This is a first step toward a long partnership between two important states.”
In his presentations in both Oakland and Sacramento, De Souza and assistant Roberto Sander described Santa Catarina as a state that produces 8 percent of Brazil’s gross domestic product and leads the nation in production of pork, poultry, paper, furniture and wood.
Located in the southern part of Brazil, Santa Catarina has developed geographic industrial clusters devoted to products such as ceramics, chemicals and shrimp in the south and electric motors, textiles and flowers in the north.
The United States is a $5 billion export market for Santa Catarina, which annually imports $1.9 billion in products from America.
“We import too little from the U.S., especially from California,” De Souza said. “We need to increase our level of imports in areas where California is strong, such as fruits, chemicals and software.”
Helping to coordinate the visit of the Brazilian delegation and joining De Souza on the trade mission was Pedro Kraus, director of the multinational Chamber of International Business, known as CAMBRA.
Kraus is a professor of international business at Central University of Jaraguá do Sul, which is a CAMBRA partner along with Cal State Hayward.
“Agreements such as these are among the most important reasons CAMBRA was created,” Kraus said.
“We put together international trade missions, research projects and educational exchanges that can stimulate economic activity around the world.”
Cal State Hayward is a founding partner of CAMBRA, which has member companies and government agencies in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and the United States.
The university offers graduate business degrees in Russia, China, Singapore and Austria and a Transnational Executive MBA Program, known as TEMBA, that trains U.S.-based managers in global business.
Kraus said that trade pacts between the United States and some of these nations, and anticipated ratification of the Free Trade of the Americas agreements by 34 North and South American countries, put CAMBRA on the cutting edge of international commerce.
“The state of Santa Catarina is at a point now where its companies are ready to make a bigger push into international markets and encourage foreign companies to invest,” Kraus said. “CAMBRA provides services to make that happen”
Through its TEMBA program, Cal State Hayward prepares participants to run multinational companies. As an element of their coursework, TEMBA participants have traveled to countries such as Austria, Brazil, Chile, and Thailand to conduct consulting projects for companies there.
In Santa Catarina, TEMBA consultants have prepared product introduction studies on goods such as furniture, textiles, plants, shoes, clothing and plumbing fixtures.
A TEMBA team recently completed a project commissioned by the state to learn how to attract more American tourists to Santa Catarina.
“It is appropriate that one of the most globally-minded universities in the United States is involved in the world’s business,” said Robert Brauer, representing Cal State Hayward President Norma Rees at the Sacramento signing ceremony.
“Cal State Hayward is simply the best partner in American higher education to turn international agreements like this into successful partnerships.”
Transnational Executive MBA Program
California State University, Hayward
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd.
Hayward, CA. 94542
Camara de Negocios Internacionais / CAMBRA
Rua Jorge Czernewicz100, Barrio Czernewicz
89255-000, Jaraguá do Sul, SC, Brasil
Kim Huggett is director of public affairs for California State University, Hayward. He is a former reporter for The Sacramento Union newspaper. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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