Ambassador Claudio Raja Gabaglia Lins was upbeat about Pakistan-Brazil trade boost. “I with my spouse have been to all over Pakistan, we always felt at home, have met ordinary people, they were very much hospitable and lively. But people living in distant world such as Brazil and rest of the South America needs to be introduced the new look of Pakistan under the new government,” says the Ambassador in exclusive interview with Melange Media Group. Following is the text of question and answer session.
Q: His Excellency you are a seasoned diplomat and top envoy of your country here, in Islamabad, what are your plans to help promote and enhance bilateral trade Brazil and Pakistan?
Ans: The first natural step for enhancing the relationship between two countries, especially when they are not neighboring countries, is increasing trade. Through trade, people know each other, get information and increase their interest in the other country. For this reason, my main task has been to try to boost the bilateral trade. In this sense, one achievement was the recent launching of the Pakistan-Brazil Business Forum, with the support of the Federation of the Pakistani Chambers of Commerce and Industries. We hope that, with more trade, we can also boost cultural interchanges, touristic approaches and people to people connections.
Q: How can you draw advantage or help from recently signed Pakistan and Brazil Technical Cooperation Agreement in achieving goals of giving a boost to the bilateral ties mainly the trade, research and development exchanges.
Ans: The Technical Cooperation Agreement is what we call an umbrella agreement, which will allow us to propose bilateral partnerships in many areas. With it, we can search for new opportunities and build projects in the interest of both countries in a horizontal relationship, exchanging solutions that maybe Brazil has for the Pakistani development problems and vice-versa. The fields where it can be done are almost all the existing governmental activities, but, in the case of Brazil, especially in those areas where our country is extremely efficient, like agriculture, livestock and energy.
Q: The earlier discussed agreement focuses on areas such as agriculture, livestock, health, education and professional qualification. What specific new initiatives of mutual benefit do you have in mind under its purview?
Ans: We are thinking about trying to increase the Pakistani production of ethanol, through technology transfer and sharing. As you may know Brazil is the second largest producer of ethanol in the World, and also the most efficient. The two countries have much in common in this field: sugarcane production in Pakistan is big enough to take advantage of the Brazilian technology on ethanol production.
Q: Although it looks like remote to you, still, if you see any business, investment, and/or technological cooperation opening in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor?
Ans: One of the main difficulties in the bilateral trade, but also in other areas of possible cooperation is the logistics. Nowadays, the geographical distance and the limitations it imposes still discourage some Brazilian and Pakistani investors and businessmen. The completion of the CPEC will address some of those difficulties, which mean it will help in all directions to develop businesses, investments and technological cooperation. Pakistan may become a big regional hub and therefore more attractive for Brazilian investors.
Q: The newly elected political leadership in Pakistan has stepped in with aggressive marketing strategy chiefly for foreign investors, do you think new government in Islamabad would be able to attract Brazilian Investors and traders.
Ans: Certainly, the internal markets of Pakistan and Brazil are potentially very interesting to each other, considering both countries surpassed the mark of 200 million inhabitants. The Embassy of Brazil will be ready to support the Pakistani government in any initiative.
Q: Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces Admiral Ademir Sobrinho recently visited Islamabad. How do you look at the role of the Pakistan armed forces in curbing terrorist violence, and the future of bilateral ties specifically in security and defense?
Ans: The field of Defense one in which the relationship between the two countries have developed the most in the last few years. There is an ongoing exchange of Pakistani and Brazilian officers participating in courses and activities; there are important conversations on trade in the Defense market, with prospective contracts for sales from Brazil to Pakistan and from Pakistan to Brazil. The Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces Admiral Sobrinho has informed the Pakistani Armed Forces commanders that Brazil will designate a Defense Attaché to Pakistan, in the Embassy of Brazil in Islamabad. This is a sign that Brazil gives full importance to the success Pakistan has reached in the Defense field, including the sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.
Q: Brazil is known as a world leader in football and has produced legendary soccer players. What are the possibilities of Pakistan getting help from Brazil in terms of coaching and other support to revitalize the game in Pakistan?
Ans: As you may know, Pakistan succeed in having the first victory in an official football math in the Asian Games, against Nepal. Professor Nogueira is the Brazilian coach to the Pakistan football team. Considering the work of Prof. Nogueira has started only two months ago, I think the first good results came very fast. It was perhaps a small, but already a remarkable result for Pakistan. Football nowadays is very competitive and it is not easy to prevail quickly in this sport. Reaching at least one victory in the continental tournament was a big boost. And we need to remember: Pakistan did lose to Japan, but Japan has beaten Colombia in the World Cup and was beating the powerful Belgium till the last minute of the game during the tournament. So Pakistan lost to a very powerful team .
Q: Capoeira, Brazilian dance, was introduced in the recent years in Pakistan is there some positive and promising feedback so far from the Pakistani youth?
Ans: Capoeira is still small in Pakistan, but the number of interested youth is increasing. We offer Capoeira classes in the Embassy with a qualified teacher. Much more than a martial fight, Capoeira is a dance and a joy, in a fight format. I hope we can have more young Pakistani people interested in knowing about this Brazilian martial art.
Q: Women entrepreneurs are in a minority in Pakistan. Brazil lays strong emphasis on women empowerment. What potential do you read for the two countries working together on women emancipation along the multilateral organization and also within the scope of bilateral cooperation?
Ans: Brazil is very active in the debates on women empowerment in International organizations. We have a very efficient law against domestic violence, we have established specialized police facilities dedicated to punish the violence against women, and like Pakistan we have developed quota policies for women in key areas, such as the places for candidates in our elections, in which 30%, at least, need to be women. We need to progress much more, but Brazil has a good mark in this area, considering all the difficulties Brazilian women still have to face with domestic violence. I think in our bilateral relationship we can also play a role, especially exchanging our important national experiences in this field.
Q: Ambassador you have been in Pakistan for last few years. How do you find Pakistani people and culture?
Ans: I love Pakistan and me and my wife always felt at home, because of the warmth of the Paksiani people. We have many friends and have travelled a lot in the country. In this sense, Pakistan and Brazil are quite similar: in spite of concerns and challenges, we are hospitable, friendly and religious peoples.
Q: During stay here you must have been meeting with government as well as business circles what are your worthy views on Pakistani governance and entrepreneurship?
Ans: The Pakistani Government has always warmly reciprocated our desire of increasing the bilateral relationship. Pakistani businessmen who deal with Brazil are well received and do good business, and vice-versa. We have to favour more trade missions from both sides. In this sense, the new Government in Pakistan can play an important role, considering the leadership of the new Prime Minister. Brazil will always have open arms to Pakistan.
Published in Melange Intl. Magazine September 2018.