US-Brazil Trade: Prospects and Challenges

Brazil's growing economy gives a promising opportunity for exporters. Now the world's seventh largest economy, with a GDP per capita higher than China's, the number of enterprises operating in the country has increased dramatically over the previous five years With GDP growth of roughly 3.4% and an EU free trade agreement on the horizon, the Brazilian market appears incredibly attractive for enterprises looking for new markets to export to. The country also has an existing economic link with the United States, with annual exports to Brazil totaling almost £3 billion.

Although Brazil holds great promise for US exporters, the country has numerous quirks that make it difficult to do business. These include the tax system's complexity, linguistic and cultural disparities, a burdensome bureaucracy, and infrastructure deficiencies. This essay will delve deeper into some of these issues, providing aspiring exporters with a more thorough understanding of the market.


The World Bank ranks Brazil as one of the most difficult nations in the world to start a business, with 13 separate legal procedures required to finish the process (and a 4-5 month delay). One candy company was startled to learn that it took nearly a year to operate a shop in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. There was a great amount of documents to produce, so the confectioner had to hire not only a lawyer, but also a forwarding agent and an accountant. Each confectionary product supplied was subject to a different tax code, and the shop and factory had to be registered as separate enterprises, despite being just around the corner.

The burden of bureaucracy contributes to the high attrition rate of new enterprises, while corruption thrives since bribing frequently speeds up the bureaucratic process. The burdensome structure of Brazil's convoluted bureaucracy raises the cost and complexity of doing business in the country, making corporate activities take longer than they would elsewhere. Faced with such a mountain of legislation to traverse, Brazilian lawyers rarely go hungry, and hiring one is almost mandatory when entering the market.

The Brazilian bureaucracy.

Brazil's taxes are not only relatively high, but the country's tax structure is also one of the most complex in the world, according to market experts at PwC. Regional taxes sometimes conflict with one another, and enforcement is strict. It takes an incredible lot of time to conduct tax activities, therefore expect an additional fee for meeting tax regulations.

Imported items are also subject to extraordinarily high taxes, which was one of the reasons Nintendo withdrew from this market. Taxes and taxes on imported items have occasionally raised the price of new iPhones above $1200 in this market.

With demand for luxury cars soaring in the country, automakers such as Mercedes, BMW, and Audi have chosen the costlier route of manufacturing domestically in order to avoid high import duties on finished vehicles. Lenovo, the PC manufacturer, has taken the same strategy. Brazil's economy has always relied on raw resource exports. As a result, traditionally, road construction has tended to focus on transporting resources from their source to the nearest port rather than between settlements. Infrastructure remains poor and has a long way to go. Expect travel delays, such as traffic congestion, to impede corporate operations.

While infrastructure projects are difficult to launch in any country, Brazil's bureaucracy makes things even more difficult. Construction permits require approximately 17 legal procedures to be completed before they can be allowed, which typically takes about a year and a half.


Portuguese is spoken by almost 99% of the Brazilian population, making it easier to conduct business than dealing with a multilingual market like India. However, unlike in an economy like India, English is not widely spoken. Brazilian pundits have noted this as a barrier to domestic business expansion across borders. Brazilians rarely speak a second language; if they do, it is usually German or Spanish. English and Spanish are taught in school.

Brazil is known for its positive culture and openness to conducting business with foreigners. There are some cultural contrasts between Brazil and the United States, such as Brazil's more flexible attitude toward timekeeping.

When it comes to appointment keeping, being 30 minutes to an hour late is often regarded acceptable. There is a casual culture of "jogo de cintura," which basically implies that "everything will be fine in the end," therefore projects are frequently left until the last minute: Brazilians are less willing to plan than British or Americans. There is also a cultural unwillingness to face confrontations and say 'no'.

Politically, the country provides stability and growth ambition, and there is genuine complementarity between Brazilian business culture and that of European economies.

Brazil, which has Latin America's largest port, serves as a great entryway to the continent as a whole. Brazil also has a talented and resilient labor force that is often friendly, enthusiastic, and adaptable. With multiple trade agreements being discussed with the EU, the country's overall stance is positive toward doing business with outsiders. When compared to the risks of conducting business in a country like China, where native businesses are prioritized over foreign ones at any costs, Brazil appears to be more open to international investment.

The key to effective adaption to doing business in Brazil is to be adaptable, patient, and determined. It is also vital to build in personal relationships and commit to the long term in Brazil, as bureaucratic delays will ensure that nothing gets done quickly in this market. Whatever your organization's goals are for this potentially lucrative market, finding the right agency or local partner is key to success.


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