Rubens Barbosa, who served as Brazilian ambassador to the U.S. from 1999 to 2004, provided an overview of Brazil's growing economy to a full crowd of representatives from Middle Tennessee's international business community yesterday.
Brazil has a population of nearly 200 million, a GDP of $2.5 trillion, and a stable banking system. Social programs have helped expand the middle class and reduce the number of citizens living in poverty. In the past decade, the poorest 50 percent of Brazilians saw their incomes go up by 68 percent, according to the Getulio Vargas Foundation.
Brazil's unemployment rate is around 5 percent, and inflation hovers at 4.5 percent. The country's economy, the sixth largest in the world,
is growing at 3-4 percent per year. During the global recession, Brazil's government offered incentives for consumption, rather than bailing out major companies. This approach proved to be beneficial for both companies and consumers.
According to Barbosa, the best prospects for investment in Brazil are agricultural equipment, aerospace, telecommunications, environmental technologies, health-care services and equipment, and IT/software development.
Substantial offshore oil and gas reserves have made Brazil the world's ninth-largest oil and gas producer. Despite this, Barbosa said the reserves are deep and difficult to access, which is leading to the development of new technologies.
The country will host the 2014 World Cup, and Rio de Janeiro will be home to the 2016 Summer Olympics. These two sporting events are expected to increase the international spotlight on Brazil.
Chamber Director of International Business Blewett Melton; IBC Past Chair Dave Berryman (Gibson Guitar); Ambassador Rubens Barbosa; Nashville Health Care Council President Caroline Young; and former Honorary Consul of Brazil in Atlanta Tim Perry of Miller Martin at the International Business Council Breakfast on April 11.