(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Our host Mr Paulo Skaf,
Production Development Secretary Mr Armando Meziat,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure and joy that the Queen and I, after 25 years, return to Brazil on an official State Visit. As you may know, Brazil has a special place in our hearts and minds. We will have the opportunity to visit various parts of this beautiful and magnificent country, including parts of the Amazon region which we have never seen before.
Yesterday, we started our official visit in Brasilia visiting the Supreme Court as well as the Congress. President Lula hosted an official meeting followed by a delightful luncheon at the Itamaraty Palace. Tomorrow, I will go to São José dos Camposto visit the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and Embraer to closer study the high level of industrial development that Brazil has achieved.
We were honoured when you, Mr. President, in 2007 made the historic first official State Visit of a Brazilian president to our country. This is a testimony to our excellent bilateral relations. The visit itself inspired our governments to seek more opportunities and areas for cooperation. I hope that the relations between Brazil and Sweden will be further strengthened through this official State Visit.
The friendly relationship between our two countries rests on a long and fruitful history. Sweden and Brazil established diplomatic relations as early as in January 1826. The first Swedish emigrants arrived in 1890. Today, the Queen and I have met with members of the Swedish community that reside in São Paulo and other parts of the country.
The development of the Brazilian economy over the past decade is impressive. Brazil has also managed well during the recent global financial crisis and the economy is already growing. The Brazilian real is strong, and inflation is under control. You have reason to be proud of these accomplishments.
I am pleased that so many Swedish companies continue to take part in the development of this country. Yesterday, in my presence, Brazil and Sweden launched a bilateral business council.
Brazil is not only an important economic actor. In recent years, it has become increasingly evident to all that Brazil is one of the most important global powers, a position that is reinforced by its strong positive example to the world. Brazil and Sweden share the same values, and we look forward to continue working with you to find effective and inclusive solutions to the global challenges we face.
One of the greatest challenges of our time is to combat climate change. Both Sweden and Brazil participated actively in the COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen in December last year, hoping for a strong international commitment to reduce CO2 emissions. Many have expressed disappointment with the outcome of the meeting. But we cannot give up! Future generations depend on what we manage to do today, and we should spare no efforts in trying to find joint solutions to environmental and climate challenges.
I congratulate Brazil on the very ambitious national targets it has set for the reduction of CO2 emissions in Brazil. Your clean energy matrix plays an important role in this regard, and offers great potential and opportunities for further collaboration between Brazil and Sweden. In 2007, Sweden and Brazil signed an agreement to cooperate in the field of biofuels and bioenergy. Sweden is the largest importer of Brazilian ethanol in Europe. I drive an ethanol car myself. We have developed advanced clean and environmental technologies. I hope that we will see much more cooperation in this field, including Swedish buses here in São Paulo.
This year is an election year in both our countries. Safeguarding democratic values and the involvement of our citizens in the development of our societies is a priority for both of our countries.
I am confident that the strategic partnership between Swedenand Brazil will continue to develop in the years to come, and that we will find many areas in which it will be to our mutual benefit to both deepen and broaden our partnership. Culture, education, biofuels, energy, forestry, sustainable development, defence, high technology and innovation are among the areas that have already been identified.
Today is an occasion to celebrate the friendship between our two countries and to promote continued dialogue and cooperation, particularly on the theme of today's seminar: innovation and high technology. I look forward to learning more about how our companies are working together, and the opportunities the future holds for us.