Export Development Canada, or EDC, is Canada’s export credit agency, a government institution that offers financial services to Canadian exporters and investors interested in doing business abroad. They provide financing, insurance and bonding services, as well as foreign expertise in more than 200 markets worldwide and last year, facilitated $24.7 billion of Canadian trade in emerging markets.
Coincidentally that is one of the hottest emerging markets these days in Brazil as well. With financial and political instability taking over other international markets, South America – especially Brazil – is starting to look very attractive to Canadian exporters and investors. Jean Cardyn is EDC’s regional vice-president for South America and has recently moved to São Paulo to work at the Canadian Consulate General. A Canadian born in the Chilean Patagonia to French and Spanish parents, Jean has had a long and varied career in the international field and now, much like many Canadian investors, he has turned his attention to Brazil.
DB – What is the role of the EDC in South America?
Jean Cardyn – Our objective is to grow Canada’s international trade. We provide trade finance and risk management services for Canadian exporters and investors coming to Brazil. Our role is basically to help them extend their international business. We offer financing in the form of working capital to exporters, insurance, bonding support and credit insurance, which can help with cash flow and line of credit increase.
DB - What are the main areas of interest in Brazil for Canadian investments?
JC - Our main area of activity goes with the sectors where Canadians are more active. In Brazil it’s mostly the primary sector – mining, oil and gas, followed by infrastructure, environment, resources, and then transportation.
DB – Are Brazil and Canada good trading partners?
JC- The relationship between Brazil and Canada has been a very positive relationship. Canadian companies have been investing in Brazil for over one hundred years now. Both countries have matured quite significantly and there is a fair bit in common between the two. We share vast territories, in the most part uninhabited, we have similar natural resources, multicultural societies, and share similar values about human rights. We’re both peace-loving nations. There’s a recognition now in both countries that resource development and innovation are signs of economic growth and productivity, which leads to an increase in prosperity.
DB – What is your biggest challenge?
JC - Our challenge is to increase awareness about the opportunities that exist in Brazil and the potential for investing here. The goal is to make Canadian companies discover more about the country and become more familiar and comfortable coming here, investing and developing relationships. It’s all growing but it’s still small compared to the potential.
DB – You have worked closely with the financial markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. How do you see Brazil positioned in the international arena?
JC – Brazil is doing the right things to address social and security problems. The country has become a very stable economy and there’s a lot of confidence in the direction that the country is taking. There are solid policies implemented and it’s an open economy, welcoming foreign trade. Brazil still needs to do some significant catching up to bring its infrastructure to the level required to sustain its growth, but its middle class is growing and the recent discovery of offshore oil and gas is going to bring significant resources that will be invested in growth.
DB – You had never been to Brazil prior to moving there. How have you been adapting?
JC – I’m a Brazilian at heart. I’ve been here for 9 months and I love Brazil already. There’s so much I still have to discover, I’m looking forward to my stay here. For me it’s been a discovery and a lot of Canadians go through the same process. Living in Canada for the past 40 years have made me a typical Canadian, but I feel at home here as much as I feel at home in Canada.