Born in Rio de Janeiro and educated as a journalist, Ambassador Eduardo Prisco Paraiso Ramos was appointed Consul General of Brazil in SF in June of 2011, after serving as Ambassador of Brazil in Panamá and El Salvador. He has had a distinguished career in the Brazilian Foreign Service and has been an advocate for cooperation in technology and education. In this interview with BayBrazil, Ambassador Ramos talks about the results of President Dilma Rousseff’s visit to the region, the business relations with local companies and what it needs to be done for Brazil to be a tech leader.
BayBrazil: What are the results of President Rousseff’s trip to the U.S.?
Amb. Prisco Ramos: Well, they are twofold: on the political side, it marks the re-launching of the political dialogue between the two countries, and the re-establishment of the partnership between the two heads of states; and the joint announcement of environment issues is a good example of that. The lifting of the ban on beef imports from Brazil is another very important. As far as economic relations are concerned, the business communities of both the East and the West Coasts were informed of the many opportunities for doing business in Brazil and what the plans for the President’s new term are. Very positive results on all sides.
BayBrazil: How has the visit advanced the talks on the Visa Waiver Program? Will Americans and Brazilians ever travel without the need for a visa?
Amb. Prisco Ramos: Some progress has been made: the two countries agreed to make the necessary steps so that Brazil can join the “Global Entry” program in about one year. The visa scrapping is a bit more complicated, but it is at the end of this road, and both Brazil and the US are moving towards this aim. It will take some time, though.
BayBrazil: President Rousseff’s approval rating dropped to a record low. Has her unpopularity at home impacted her deals abroad?
Amb. Prisco Ramos: She was very well received at the White House; the meetings with the business communities both in New York and in the Bay Area were very warm and friendly. New roads have been opened for cooperation between the two countries at the state and private sector levels; the dialogue was intense and fruitful and that is what really counts!
BayBrazil: Many Silicon Valley and SF-based companies have launched operations in Brazil in recent years, including Airbnb, Salesforce, Uber, Zendesk and others. Do you expect more local companies to have a presence in Brazil in coming months?
Amb. Prisco Ramos: No doubt. President Dilma had a luncheon at the Hoover Institute (at Stanford) with the CEOs of several IT, bio-tech and VC companies and all they said was that they were planning to expand their companies operations in Brazil. Google alone is doubling the number of engineers at Belo Horizonte R&D facility and is opening a huge co-working space for entrepreneurs in São Paulo.
BayBrazil: What will take for Brazil to be a technology innovation leader instead of a follower? What is the best thing that can be done by the government to support innovation?
Amb. Prisco Ramos: Brazil has to invest in technology; increase significantly the number of its graduate students at home and abroad; make joint research projects between its domestic universities and foreign ones a common thing; make its universities and research labs more international; establish more and more entrepreneurship programs, like StartUp Brazil; and create a venture capital culture in the country. In a very humble and modest scale, the Consulate in San Francisco tries to be helpful in each one of these goals.
BayBrazil: The Consulate’s office in SF was extremely busy in the months prior to the World Cup. How many visas were issued? What is your expectation for the 2016 Olympic games?
Amb. Prisco Ramos: It was hectic during that time! Whoever bought a ticket to the World Cup was entitled to a free visa and we issued four thousand five hundred “World Cup visas” in less than two months – which is more than the double amount we grant each month on average. And we still had the normal amount to issue! The difference now is that there is no “Olympics visa” tied to the tickets for the Games; so anyone who is planning to attend the Games should simply apply for a normal visa – and he or she would do us at the Consulate a favor if this application could be done in advance and not at the very last moment…
BayBrazil: Tell us about your best moments in these last four years as a Consul General in SF.
Amb. Prisco Ramos: For a professional diplomat, a presidential visit is the most important moment in your tenure… but there have been great moments in these last four years. For instance, when Movile’s Playkids became the most downloaded app in world at the Apple store for kids between 5-8 years; or when BayBrazil has to look for another venue for its annual conferences because a 250-seat auditorium is no longer enough…
BayBrazil: What everyone should know about Brazil?
Amb. Prisco Ramos: That Brazil is marvelous!
Watch Ambassador Prisco Ramos remarks at our annual conference Brazil in the 21st Century.