by Aaryn Lambert

    See You in Rio

    According to the U.S. State Department, Brazil has not only recovered from 2008’s global financial crisis, it has boomed. The economy grew 7.5 per cent in 2010, and with growth expected to continue, Brazil should be the world’s fifth-largest economy “within the next several years.”

    “Luckily for individuals and businesses looking for a piece of the pie,” continues the State Department, “Brazil is generally open to and encourages foreign investment … Since domestic savings are not sufficient to sustain long-term high-growth rates, Brazil must continue to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), especially as the government plans to invest billions of dollars in off-shore oil, nuclear power, and other infrastructure sectors over the next few years.”

    And the easiest way to find investment opportunities in the offshore is the new biennial Offshore Technology Conference, next scheduled for October 8-10, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.

    Tony Patterson, President and CEO of Virtual Marine Technology, has two pieces of advice for anyone looking to expand their business into Brazil.

    “One: know exactly what you want to offer and who is your buyer. There are a lot of people trying to enter the Brazilian market and general prospecting will get lost in noise. Do your homework before getting on the plane.

    Two: invest time to find the right local partner. Local content and a local presence is very important in Brazil. Many business discussions are a blend of English and Portuguese. Your local partner will make or break your attempt to enter the market.”

    This is sound advice for entering any new market, especially one where culture and language are a barrier to entry. But if you’ve done your homework, if you know what you have to offer, OTC Brasil sounds like the place to take care of Patterson’s second piece of advice, finding a local partner.

    Last year’s conference attracted more than 10,000 attendees, with representatives of more than 400 companies from 23 countries. More importantly, ninety Brazilian companies exhibited.

    “We were extremely pleased … The region is rapidly gearing up to be one of the world’s largest offshore producers, and gathering the most influential associations and players in the industry will be a catalyst in developing the Brazilian offshore resources,” said Ricardo Juiniti, OTC Brasil 2011 Program Committee co-chairman.

    So what kind of opportunities will there be in the coming years? Anything and everything involved with or tangentially related to offshore oil production, from port development to rigging, and from logistical support to maritime surveillance. If you’re in the industry, it’s time to start brushing up on your Portuguese and reading up on the local business environment.

    “In many respects, Brazilians are very much like Canadians, and dealing with Brazilians is similar to dealing with folks at home,” says Tony.

    But there are differences. “A meeting schedule evolves rather than is planned. Leave lots of spare time for impromptu meeting requests which will inevitably arise. One of the key regulations to consider is their local content regulations.”

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