MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
"We are so pleased we could finally open our embassy here," Fontelene Reis told Nepali Times in an interview. "There is great potential to build bilateral cooperation in agriculture, hydropower and tourism."
In three days of meetings, Fontelene Reis met Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha and agreed on increasing technical cooperation, investment, establishing a mechanism for regular political consultations and lifting requirements for visas for official and diplomatic passports. She also thanked Shrestha for Nepal's support for the candidacy of Brazilian José Graziano da Silva as head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) last year.
Brazil is keen to share technical knowhow on agriculture, provide human resource training and improve the quality of Nepali coffee. Brazil would also like to increase its investment in Nepal, but the delays in the 400MW Lower Arun project have meant that the Brazilian multinational, Engevix, is on the verge of pulling out after six years.
Recently, the Energy Ministry allowed India's Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam to increase the capacity of the Arun III upstream from 402MW to 900MW, making Engevix less viable. The Ministry has extended the license for Lower Arun by six months to reorient and restructure its engineering, but the Brazilians say they need at least 18 more months.
"The decision came out of the blue, it is quite frustrating," says Brazil's new ambassador to Nepal, Marcos Duprat Ribeiro (pictured, above), "Lower Arun is a showcase project and a satisfactory conclusion would send the right signals, attracting more Brazilian investors in the future in Nepal's hydropower sector."
"BRICS is not anti-western"
Chinese flavour, Indian curry, SHYAM SARAN
The BRICS summit in New Delhi showed that China is emerging as the pre-eminent partner in the group