A current view of Brazil

Brazil is big. In lots of ways. It has the world’s largest area of arable land in a single country, is the biggest economy in Latin America and 9th largest internationally.

 

It's also the 5th in population. It’s largest city, São Paulo, is amongst the top 20 global megacities in 2016, and is set to remain there in 2030 with an estimated population of almost 25 million.

The widely anticipated elections were marked by the population's major defiance towards the political class and the election of the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro from the Social Liberal Party (PSL) . Even though the new President's policies are extremely controversial, both in Brazil and abroad, the initial economic response to his victory was positive, mainly due to his new Minister of the Economy, Paulo Guedes. The libaral economist Minister defends the formal independence of the Central Bank, the privatisation of state-owned companies, a capitalisation system for social security. As for foreign policy, the new President intends to focus on bilateral trade deals, allowing Mercosur members to negotiate free trade agreements bilaterally.

The unemployment rate in Brazil is still high, reaching 11.8% in 2018, however it recorded a 1% decrease from the previous year. The steady decrease in unemployment thoughout 2018 contributed to an improvement in household consumption. Although unemployment decreased, the country continues to face social issues and has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world.  Even though Brazil has lifted 28 million people out of poverty in the last 15 years, 10% of the population still live in poverty. The country's richest 5% have the same income as the remaining 95%. There are high disparities between the regions, and there has been a recent rise in the rates of delinquency and criminal violence.

Main Sectors of Industry

Brazil has abundant natural resources and a relatively diversified economy. Brazil is the world's largest producer of coffee, sugar cane and oranges, and is one of the world’s largest producers of soy. With forests covering half of the country and the world’s largest rainforest, Brazil is the world’s fourth largest exporter of timber. Additionally, Brazil is home to the world’s largest commercial livestock heard. The country also attracts many multi-national groups in the food and bio-fuels industries. Still, agriculture contributes relatively little to the GDP (4.6%) and only employs 10% of the population, while it represents 40% of exports.

Brazil is also a large industrial power, and has benefited greatly from its mineral ore wealth. The country is the world’s second largest exporter of iron, and one of the world’s main producers of aluminium and coal. As an oil producer, Brazil is aiming to become energy independent in the near future, with reserves that could make it one of the top five oil producers in the world. Furthermore, the country is increasingly asserting itself in the textile, aeronautics, pharmacy, automobile, steel and chemical industry sectors. Many of the world’s large automobile manufacturers have set up production plants in Brazil. The industry sector contributes 18.5% to the GDP and employs 20.9% of the population. Even though the sector had experienced a slowdown in recent years, it has been recovering since 2016 and is currently growing again.

The service sector represents over 63% of Brazilian GDP and employs almost 70% of the active workforce. In recent years, the country has embarked on the production of high added-value services, especially in the fields of aeronautics and telecommunications. Tourism has also been on the rise in recent years, making it an important segment of the sector.

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