Brazil has announced a programme that is intended to make it easier to import scientific equipment and materials into the country.
Called 'easy science import' (importa fácil ciência), the programme will attempt to meet demands from researchers to reduce the amount of bureaucracy that is involved in bringing scientific equipment into the country (see Red tape on imports 'is stifling Brazilian research').
Under the programme, scientists who register with the Council of Scientific and Technological Development will be able to take advantage of financial and administrative benefits — such as exemption from import fees and taxes — that are currently enjoyed by non-profit institutions.
According to the council, any scientist attached to a research institution or centre will be eligible, and about 10,000 students holding scholarships from the council have been automatically registered.
The maximum value of scientific equipment that can be imported has been raised from US$3,000 to US$10,000. And the process will be further streamlined by the fact that the postal authorities will handle the customs paperwork for imported goods, subsequently delivering equipment to the scientists who have ordered it.
Brazil's minister of science and technology, Eduardo Campos, believes that, as a result of the new programme, most of problems faced by Brazilian scientists will be eliminated. However some researchers feel that further changes are needed, such as getting rid of the limit of import value.
In a recent interview to Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, the scientific director of the Research Aid Foundation of São Paulo (FAPESP), José Fernando Pérez, welcomed the new programme. But he added that there should be no limit on the value of imported research equipment. "Most equipment costs more than the US$10,000 limit," he says.