Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Red tape on imports 'is stifling Brazilian research'

Shares

[RECIFE] Brazilian scientists are campaigning to reduce the bureaucracy involved in bringing scientific equipment into the country.

In a declaration to be presented shortly to the ministry of science and technology, more than 300 Brazilian researchers state that "countless scientists have been waiting for years to receive equipment. Customs policies produce a lot of bureaucracy just to obtain a few microlitres or a simple reagent".

The scientists call for new customs procedures that simplify and reduce the cost of bringing equipment and reagents into the country. Import taxes on scientific equipment should be abolished, and systems should be put in place to ensure that all equipment takes no more than 24 hours to pass through customs, they say.

According to Stevens Kastrup Rehen of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the US-based Scripps Research Institute, delays are so severe that by the time scientists receive reagents the chemicals have often expired. "And when we get our hands on equipment, it’s already outdated," he says.

"Fees to import and store equipment aren't cheap and, what's worse, they are being paid with government money as part of research grants," adds Rehen, who currently lives in the United States and is a key member of the group that wrote the declaration. "Public money is being used for something that often we can’t even use."

Thereza Christina Barja-Fidalgo of the pharmacology department of the State University of Rio de Janeiro, recently wrote in the Brazilian Jornal da Ciencia that "in the United States and most European countries, the interval between purchase and delivery of a reagent takes no more than 72 hours. The same reagent in Brazil costs at least twice its price in US dollars and, if you're lucky, takes a month to be delivered. It's hard to work and compete like this."

The declaration also calls for a simple, fast and efficient way for foreign institutions or individuals to donate scientific materials to Brazil. "Sometimes universities can't even get hold of donated equipment because customs tax are prohibitively high. On other occasions, universities just don't have enough infrastructure to make use of scientific donations," adds Barja-Fidalgo. "How can we explain this to a foreigner contributor who wants to help us? It's tragic."

Link to the Brazilian declaration (in Portuguese)

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.