"Brazil with its 190 million people and huge land area and resources offers enormous opportunities for creative and innovative New Zealand firms," New Zealand's Trade Minister Phil Goff said from São Paulo, in the Brazilian southeast. Goff is leading a trade mission to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile.
"Brazil poses a different and sometimes difficult market for New Zealand exporters, but those prepared to face up to the risks and persevere to meet the challenges can achieve big returns.
"Last night I participated in the signing of an agreement between Eyemagnet, a Wellington based high tech company and its Brazilian partners which has the potential to realize a multi-million dollar return.
"The deal is to supply software for interactive television on São Paulo bus services, starting with 500 buses this year and building up to 5000 by the end of 2008.
"It has the potential to extend to the full fleet of 30,000 thereafter and beyond that to other parts of Brazil and South America. It's the case of a small company with a big product getting the edge over competing multinational companies through innovation and excellence.
"But it is not an isolated case in this market. Last month, another small New Zealand company Mobile Mentor won a five-year contract worth US$ 50 million with a mobile telecom operator in Brazil to provide on-site consulting expertise and IP transfer with the initial implementation.
"This company developed out of the Icehouse business incubator in Auckland in 2005, was successful in the New Zealand market and is now realizing its potential in a market many times the size of New Zealand.
"These companies are an inspiration to other companies focused on agritechnology and food production currently on the trade mission to South America which I am leading.
"From big companies like Fonterra which has a US$ 50 million investment in marketing dairy produce from Brazil to smaller companies like Abacus Bio, a biotechnology company, and Waste Solutions which turns agriculture waste into energy, New Zealand firms are exploring opportunities in a country which will become one of the most powerful economies in the world in coming decades," Goff said.
New Zealand is close to finalizing a working holiday scheme with Brazil, Goff said from Brazilian capital Brasília.
"The scheme will initially be for several hundred people aged between 18 and 30 to travel in each direction each year and will help strengthen growing people to people links between our countries," Goff announced.
"Our current schemes between Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have proven hugely attractive to young Latin Americans and have been fully utilized. Argentina now has 1000 working holiday visas each year and they are all snapped up within three months of the quota being opened. A working holiday scheme was also recently concluded with Mexico.
"Our relationship with Brazil is starting to take off as the Brazilian economy grows. Tourist numbers grew by 20% last year with over 11,000 tourists from Brazil visiting New Zealand. There is also strong demand for English language training in New Zealand with over 2200 Brazilian students studying in New Zealand last year.
"Working holiday schemes have proven really valuable to New Zealand. Tourists only come to New Zealand for a matter of days while those on working holiday visas are here, working, paying taxes, and spending their earnings for up to a year. At a time of shortages of labour in the horticulture and tourism industries those on working holidays have been of great assistance.
"The net impact of the working holiday schemes has actually been to generate more jobs and strengthen the economy"
"But most importantly working holiday schemes have helped build lasting relationships between young people from Latin American and New Zealanders. The schemes create in the countries where they operate a growing group of people who have an understanding and interest in our country. That will continue to benefit New Zealand for years to come," Goff conclude.