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A promising flirt

Brazil and Canada sign an intentions protocol in the area of S&T, the first step towards a formal agreement

eduardo cesarStudies into Brazilian biodiversity: one of the areas that could generate partnerships with Canadaeduardo cesar

In November of 2005, Canada signed a scientific and technological agreement with India and, in January of this year, they signed a similar partnership with China. After tightening ties in the area of research and development with the two emerging  economies most currently talked about, the discrete icy giant of North America is now aiming at another star in the ascendants club, Brazil. As yet an agreement of this type has not been closed between Brasilia and Ottawa, but the first step to this end was given at the end of last month: the governments of both countries signed a protocol of intentions to pave the way towards a bilateral partnership in the area of science, technology and innovation. “We need to establish areas of mutual interest in order to act as complementary forces in research and innovation”, says  Arthur Carty, the national counselor of the Canadian government for the area of S&T. “The Brazilian economy will be growing more and more and we want to establish a strategic partnership with the country soon.”

The protocol was signed during the Canada-Brazil Forum of Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation, that took place in the city of São Paulo on the 21st and 22nd of March. According to the secretary for Technology and Innovation Development of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Luiz Antonio Rodrigues Elias, who represented the Brazilian government during the event and signed the protocol, work groups are being created to demarcate the priority sectors for each country and to disperse information between the universities, research institutes and companies of both countries. “Let’s stimulate the training of human resources in the two countries and promote an exchange in some specific areas”, suggests  Elias. According to the Canadian ambassador in Brazil, Guillermo Rishchynski, the formal agreement between the two nations should be consecrated during this year.

The national sector of biofuels, and especially the much talked about ethanol production, is one of those that has awakened the most interest from the Canadians. “Brazil has been strong in obtaining alcohol from sugarcane for many years and we have two or three companies with good dominance to generate fuel starting from biomass”, comments Carty. “I believe this is a field in which we can with certainty develop complementary efforts.” Still in the energy sector, Carty says that a formal approximation between the two countries could stimulate partnerships between companies in the petroleum sector.

“Petrobras, for example, has great knowledge on the extraction of petroleum in deep maritime waters whilst we have experience in removing oil from oil sands in the Province of Alberta.” In the vision of the national counselor of the Canadian government for S&T, studies into biodiversity and research for developing software are another two promising fields to develop bilateral initiatives, both in the more academic level and in the eminently entrepreneurial environment.

In spite of the small population of 33 million inhabitants, Canada, which has a territory greater than that of Brazil, is the owner of the eighth largest world economy. Its weight in the production of articles published in scientific magazines indexed by the data base of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) is around 4%, more than double the Brazilian participation in this ranking, which does not reach 2%.