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Cibele Gaspar (Nexxi Assessoria): The Strength of Competitive Advantages

12:28 24 de November de 2022 Por Daniel Oiticica

Cibele Gaspar, Master in Administration and Strategic Management and Director of Nexxi Assessoria Financeira

Infrastructure and logistics constantly improving, a privileged geographical position, long-term development policies, institutional security, tax incentives, and a qualified workforce. These are the ingredients that make Ceará attractive for investors. This analysis is from the Director of Nexxi Assessoria Financeira, Cibele Gaspar. Nexxi provides consulting to investors in several areas, facilitating the stages of the investment process. In this interview, Cibele details the geographic, structural, and fiscal advantages of Ceará with the vision of someone who understands what investors are looking for in the current economic context.

Considering the current global economic scenario, what do investors expect from the business environment where they will invest their funds?
Principally, clarity and confidence in the location where they will invest their resources, with clear rules and legal security. But no less important is to consider the competitive and locational advantages. This issue has a fundamental weight in the formation of production costs and return on investments.

To what extent does Ceará meet these requirements?
Bringing these questions to Ceará, we have the following scenario: a state whose geographical position is extremely advantageous in relation to other Brazilian states and even in relation to neighboring countries; it is the only state that has a customs free zone, which better resolves certain tax issues. Another factor that determines the investment is the airport infrastructure, as well as the state’s technological qualification, not only in terms of structure, but also in terms of skilled labor, which is also a differential. In addition, we need to consider the interaction between Ceará, the universities, and public policies. And also in relation to the regulatory frameworks, whose analysis is not limited to the state level, but to Brazil as a whole. Ceará has advanced a lot, but it is essential that there is a national understanding on several issues. This is the case of offshore wind energy projects, which now depend on a national regulatory framework to move forward. The same applies to green hydrogen.

Ceará is known for having the status of an Export Processing Zone (EPZ). Conceptually, how is it different to the Manaus Free Trade Zone, for example?
In the Manaus Free Trade Zone companies produce locally, with tax incentives, and sell their products on the domestic market. In the case of the EPZ, on the other hand, all production is geared towards exports. The greatest benefits have always been for exporters. As of 2022, a change in the legislation allows operations in the EPZs to direct about 20% of production to the domestic market, but without tax advantages. Within the EPZ, producers are exempt from export and import taxes on inputs, have preferential use of port facilities, as well as tax incentives, both at state and municipal levels.

What is Ceará’s position today as a state that attracts investment?
Ceará is very well positioned. A structure was set up that involves the Development Agency of the State of Ceará (Adece), which acts as a joint-stock company, alongside the Secretariat for Economic Development and Labor (Sedet). There is a well-designed strategy to attract investors. A strong sign of success in this field is the fact that Ceará is leading the way in several innovative projects. The volume of public investments to attract resources is higher than the national average, considering the size of Ceará’s economy.

How important are long-term public policies for investors, which become state policies, independent of the government in power?
This is a fundamental issue. Public policies such as Ceará 2050 guarantee an institutional security that, in the eyes of the investor, makes a difference when it comes time to choose a project. If there is no continuity in these long-term actions, investors run the risk of redefining their priorities according to the government. In this sense, Ceará took an important step when it approved the Ceará 2050 guidelines in the State Legislative Assembly. This means that strategic planning has the force of law for the next 30 years.

How do you evaluate the issue of tax incentives that Ceará offers to investors?
The incentives provided by the Industrial Development Fund (FDI) were reviewed to attract more investments. It is also worth highlighting the incentives in the scope of the Superintendence for the Development of the Northeast (Sudene). Incentives play an essential role in facilitating the arrival of investors, but they cannot condition the permanence of investments. It makes no sense to keep incentives permanent, because in practice, it is a statement that the project does not stand on its own. Tax incentives are complementary to a series of elements, such as logistics, infrastructure, business environment, and a well-oiled production chain. But the first step for an investor interested in investing resources is to seek the advice of specialists who have in-depth knowledge of local peculiarities to identify business opportunities and facilitate the processes.