On May 4, 2021, Tuesday, the SWISSCAM Extraordinary and Ordinary General Meeting was held on a second call, at 9:40 am, virtually through the Zoom platform.
SWISSCAM President H. Philip Schneider welcomed everyone and said it was the second virtual assembly in SWISSCAM’s history. As the Statute did not yet provide for this modality, it was necessary to hold an extraordinary meeting in such a way that the new wording includes the possibility of the meetings taking place either in a physical, virtual or hybrid environment. Subsequently, he gave the floor to SWISSCAM legal director Gustavo Stüssi to conduct the vote of the Extraordinary Meeting.
Having received the approval of the associates, the Ordinary Meeting began in virtual format with the presentation of the chamber’s activities in 2020 by the director Stefania Moeri Hertach. Soon members will receive by mail our traditional annual publication, which in this edition received illustrations to portray our new reality after the pandemic. Despite this, we held 80 events in 2020, 74 online and 6 in person, in addition to the CIOSP fair, which took place in January 2020, with the largest stand in the history of SWISSCAM. Stefania highlighted 3 events that marked the year: the panel on tax reform with the Special Advisor to the Minister of State for the Economy Dr. Vanessa Canado; the talk show on Diversity & Inclusion with the testimony of associated companies that achieved better results; and the panel with CEOs and CFOs, in addition to the Swiss Ambassador, on the resumption of the economic sectors of the main Swiss companies in Brazil.
As for the financial results, even though it was an atypical year, the chamber presented a surplus, with emphasis on the increase in annuity revenues. Gustavo Stüssi put the balance to a vote, which received the approval of the associates.
We had changes in the composition of the board with the departure of the advisors Aline Medici, Mônica Ferreira Vassimon, Ricardo Hirschbruch and Tom Maes and vice-president Valdemar Fischer, to whom we thank immensely for the great dedication. To fill these vacancies, the following directors were elected:
- Valter Brunner (Director of Sustainability at Syngenta América Latina) as vice president;
- Luigi Tomba (CCFO of Novartis Brasil) as an advisor;
- Manlio Gallotti (President of the Latin America Region at Clariant) as an advisor;
- Wilson Monteiro Junior (ABB’s South America Division Manager) as an advisor; and
- Nicolas Kaufmann (Managing Director of IMCD) as tax advisor
The 2021 budget was also put to a vote and approved by members. The president stressed that it is a conservative budget in view of the country’s context and the world context. However, we will continue to invest in activities that benefit members.
This year we will have 4 key events composing our calendar of events. They are: Innovation Event, Doing Business in Brazil (3rd edition), Breakfast with CEOs and CFOs, Diversity & Inclusion (4th edition). Follow our schedule to stay informed.
We were honored to have the participation of the Swiss Ambassador Andrea Semadeni, who brought us information about bilateral relations between Brazil and Switzerland. The health crisis will still influence the economic situation and the way of working for at least 1 or 2 years. Switzerland had the biggest drop in GDP history since 1975 (2.6%), but even better than the international average. Both countries are taking action to combat these effects.
As for trade relations between Brazil and Switzerland, there was a drop of just over 10%. But the presence of Swiss investments continues in the country. Good news also regarding bilateral agreements. The civil aviation cooperation agreement, signed in 2015, was ratified. It was already being applied, but now it will improve legal security between airlines in both countries.
The agreement to avoid double taxation, signed by the Ambassador in 2018, was ratified in April and will be applied from January 2022. He counts on the support of the president and advisors of SWISSCAM in preparing the implications of this agreement for companies. In the case of individuals, the Ambassador has already informed that, for example, anyone who receives a Swiss pension here in Brazil will pay the tax in Switzerland.
As for the free trade agreement between EFTA and Mercosur, it was noteworthy that negotiations have advanced rapidly since its beginning in 2019, being practically at the same stage as the negotiation of the agreement between the European Union and Mercosur, which started 20 years ago. However, the environmental issue has generated controversy and attracted public opinion in Europe and the possibility of an addendum is being considered. This agreement will certainly go through a referendum in Switzerland and will still occupy a lot of time at the Embassy in Brazil and also in Berne.
In April, a new meeting of the Brazil-Switzerland Joint Economic Commission took place, with the participation of representatives from various branches of the Swiss industries, such as the pharmaceutical and watch industry, who took the demands and problems that Swiss companies face in Brazil.
He said goodbye communicating his move to Senegal 2 months from now, after 4 busy years in Brazil, which were good years in terms of advancing the economic agenda. He thanked SWISSCAM and all the entrepreneurs who received him and advised him so well in Brazil.
The president closed the meeting by thanking the Embassy, Consulates and SWISSCAM advisers, welcoming the new members. He also thanked the efforts of our director Stefania, who says goodbye to new challenges.
The team is available to all members and thanks the audience during the event. The recording will soon be available in the restricted area of the website.