Chicago's 'Business With Brazil' Forum A Success

by Brazil Club - Let The Music Take You There on 10/31/2012 - 10:44 am

Fifty stories up, from the expansive brushed aluminum and marble offices of Baker & McKenzie International, and with a “you can see forever” view of the Chicago business district far below, IERG’s Executive Producer and host Bruce Montgomery observed, “We’re on the ground floor.”


IERG stands for International Executives Resources Group, and both the comment and the setting were appropriate for the 2nd International Forum, “Brazil, an Emerging Market for Sustained Success and Growth.” 


And for the more than 100 attendees of the panel discussion - and the networking opportunities which bookended the presentation – the event indicated that the “city of broad shoulders” is more than ready to step up and look south.


The dynamic four-hour evening conference covered a range of subjects with a boots on the ground perspective that has been notably absent from many such forums; eschewing theory for solid information intended to help both the newly initiated and seasoned professional come away with a better understanding of what it take to conduct business with and in Brazil.


Opening remarks from the office of the Consulate General of Brazil in Chicago, the honorable Paulo Camargo set an optimistic tone by stating that Brazil is set for a steady path to business growth: Brazil is currently ranked 6th worldwide for GDP, with consumer confidence and infrastructure investment on the rise while interest rates are decreasing and the unemployment rate stands at only 5.6%.


Brazil is creating an open door trade policy by aggressively working to lower tariffs and taxes to encourage business growth. Camargo noted that international investment continues to move towards Brazil. He also stated that while the country would feel the effects of a worldwide economic slowdown like any other nation, Brazil is uniquely positioned against any great negative influence from China.


Ernesto Ramon, the former CEO of Dow Chemical in Brazil candidly related observations from his two decades of living and working in Brazil by contrasting the business and economic conditions of the ‘70s and ‘80s to the opportunities that exist today. Britannica VP and General Manager Michael Ross related his company’s successful venture to bring the Encyclopedia Britannica to Brazil’s grade schools – in Portuguese - as an example of cross cultural integration: meeting the exacting standards of governmental agencies and colloquial application.  


Representatives from Baker & McKenzie illustrated the ins and outs of contract procedures while navigating Brazil’s complicated legal system. The good news is that it’s getting better.


Finally, Dr. Yara de Andrade shared her insight and perspective on cultural communication and the tools that the successful business person will need to master in order to compete in the marketplace of the world’s 5th largest economy.


Throughout the panel presentation, Montgomery provided the necessary context of each speaker’s role in creating a realistic profile of conducting business with Brazil, which was underscored with a raffle for round trip tickets from Chicago to Brazil courtesy of United Airlines.


Closing remarks were given by IERG Chicago Chairperson Roland Dietz, who related the innovative and uniquely essential services that the company provides to local business communities.


IERG is a one-of-a-kind volunteer, not for profit organization of senior business executives from around the world whose careers have been enriched by broad experience in the global arena. The men and women of IERG have gained seniority in all functions and disciplines, from accounting to warehousing and in organizations that range from Fortune 50 corporations to specialized professional partnerships. Dietz emphasized that one of IERG’s strengths is the ability to consult on partnership strategies when doing business in foreign countries. Learn more about IERG here


In Brazil, the law firm of Trench, Rossi and Watanabe represents Baker & McKenzie International with offices in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and Porto Alegre.


The IERG event comes on the heels of a successful trip to Brazil by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. In 2011, Brazil was Illinois' fifth-largest export market, buying more than $2.55 billion in products, notably machinery.


"With our engineers, architects and workers," the governor said Illinois could do more business with Brazilian companies.