Recently, the International Trade Secretary from Brazil, Welber Barral commented on the Brazil-US trade relationship and the recent trade dispute at an event hosted by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida in Miami.
The main topics discussed were the opportunities for American companies in Brazil, prospects for trade and investment in Brazil, and recent developments in the Brazilian economy.
“Florida is the first step for Brazilian companies”, said Barral about the relationship between Florida and Brazil. The country is the most important Florida’s commercial partner with US$ 4,291 billion on trade.
“It is important that Brazil maintains this relationship and pays close attention to Florida, because it is Brazil’s greatest client”, added Barral.
During the event, Mr. Barral also emphasized the importance of the trade relationship between Brazil and the US. He explained that, besides the barriers that exist between the two countries, he hopes to intensify such relationship, since these Brazil and the US are the two giants of north and south Americas.
Some of the attendees asked Barral about the recent retaliation that the country imposed because of a long-standing trade dispute over American subsidies to cotton growers.
The two countries just have reached an agreement. Under the preliminary deal, Brazil would hold off on retaliation in exchange for American concessions that include the modification of an export loan program and the establishment of a temporary assistance fund for the Brazilian cotton industry.
The broader issues in contention would be deferred until Congress takes up the next farm bill, most likely in 2012.
Barral mentioned that Brazil GDP will grow about 5% and the demand for airports and road construction is immense.
“We need investments in 12 cities”, said the International Trade Secretary. The country will need close to 250 billion dollars to complete the task.
“Our deadline is 2014”, explained Barral. The country will host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics Games in 2016.
China and Brazil
Barral also talked about the Brazilian policy of import tax on Chinese shoes. Since the shoes arrive in Brazil at a price lower than $1, the local manufacturers are forced to leave the industry. That eradicates competition, creating a monopoly scenario, which is considered illegal by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
He says, however, that such measures need to be adopted carefully, in order to prevent a “protectionism war.” China has just become the first trade partner for the country, surpassing the United States. The Asian country’s commerce with Brazil grew 10% in 2009.
Despite the Chinese competition, many businesses in Brazil have been growing since last year, and thus, experiencing a prosperous period. A few of them attended the event, and among them, was Sueli Kwak, Latin America Director of Proximo Games. Her company exports American video games to many Latin American countries, and has its world headquarters in Miami.
She told Mercado de Dinero that the business has been experiencing some problems with the high export taxes of the games, and the barriers some countries impose on imported products. However, the biggest problem in Brazil is the contraband of pirated games. She said that it is almost impossible to compete with those products, since they are so much cheaper and available everywhere.
On the other hand, she says that besides those few problems, the business have been doing very well.
By Christiane Sonoki. Miami