In March 2018 I was honored to name Chairman of Britcham, an institution with over 100 years’ tradition and many past successes that is now looking towards an even more promising future. With support from a robust Board of Directors, our strategies for success have now been defined. The first months of my tenure have seen the Chamber tightening its focus on our mission to develop commercial ties, investment and services through our advocacy and networking-oriented initiatives.
Despite Brazil’s current economic landscape, our Chamber has continued to chart a steady course over the past year, meeting its budget targets and achieving a reasonable surplus. Our branches in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro held a number of events, and I would like to highlight those organized by the Sector Committees, which held relevant discussions and offered members the opportunity to hear from a number of valuable speakers.
A new GBBC (Great British Business Club) business round was organized at the British Brazilian Center in São Paulo to in March. The event aimed to strengthen networking and create new business opportunities for British companies that have a footprint in Brazil.
It is worthwhile noting that we resumed an event format that has been a success in the past and it confirmed its popularity in 2018 - the CEO Lunch. Armínio Fraga, economist and former chairman of Brazil’s Central Bank, and Pedro Parente, CEO of BRF, were the guests at this year’s editions. The lunches, held in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, were attended by a select group mainly made up of member company CEOs.
Our traditional Personality of the Year Award was handed to Pedro Parente at a gala dinner at the Rio de Janeiro Center. Repeating the success in previous years, this year we also held the 16th edition of the Energy Seminar, which was attended by BP’s Chief Economist, Spence Dale, and other recognized industry speakers.
At the request of the British Ambassador to Brazil, we will be expanding our work with Consulates and Embassies in 2019 and building closer ties with Consuls. The contacts made in 2018 resulted in a number of new projects and in the first half of next year, we plan to launch new Britcham branches in Belo Horizonte and Curitiba and revitalize the Rio Grande do Sul branch, moving ahead with our partnerships and offering additional support to our members across the State.
Given our potential to work proactively and with our new branches up and running, we will be working hard to increase our membership and, as usual, retain the current members who have placed their trust in us for so long. We will be continuing our successful initiatives, such as the GBBC, which will be visiting other states, especially Rio de Janeiro, in 2019.
In the first half of the year, a new and updated edition of “Doing Business in Brazil” will be launched. This is a specialist guide focusing on Brazilian legislation for foreign business owners and executives planning to invest in Brazil. Each chapter has been written and updated by specialists from some of the top law firms that are Britcham members. We also plan to unveil a new website. It will be a modern, clear and objective website with all the information our members and prospects need.
I want to take this opportunity to underline our commitment to meeting our members’ need and as Chairman of this long-standing institution, I am always available to do anything that is within my power. My sincere thanks to our board members, staff, sponsors, supporters and members. I wish everyone a successful 2019!