December 5, 2013
Adam Green – Financial Times, 12/05/2013
The BNDES, Brazil’s government-owned development bank, will open its first Africa office on Friday in South Africa’s commercial capital of Johannesburg. Only the third overseas office for the Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social after Montevideo and London, it signals the ever-growing ties between Latin America’s largest economy and the world’s fastest growing continent. Its goal is simple – to push Brazilian companies deeper into Africa.
“We feel we are latecomers. We should have been in Africa for some time but now we are ready,” says Sergio Foldes, managing director of the bank’s international division. “By being close to institutions and decision makers, by being able to cover the region better, we can take better decisions.”
The move caps a decade-long strengthening of commercial and diplomatic relations. From 2000 to 2012, trade between Brazil and Africa grew from $4.9bn to $26.5bn. Africa’s share of Brazil’s international trade has doubled from 3 per cent in the 1990s to about 6 per cent today. In the diplomatic sphere, Brazil now has 37 embassies in Africa, up from 17 in 2002. And the love is reciprocated, it seems. Since 2003, 17 African embassies have opened in Brasília, adding to the 16 already there, making the Brazilian capital home to the largest concentration of African embassies in the southern hemisphere.
December 4, 2013
Asher Levine – Reuters, 12/04/2013
Brazilian industry posted its third straight month of timid gains in October, though capital goods manufacturing expanded at a slower pace, suggesting that a recovery in one of the weakest parts of Brazil’s economy remains on shaky ground.
Industrial production in Brazil rose 0.6 percent in October from September, government statistics agency IBGE said on Wednesday, exceeding all estimates in a Reuters survey of 28 analysts, which ranged from a contraction of 0.5 percent to an expansion of 0.5 percent.
Brazilian industry has had a mild recovery so far in 2013, with output rising 1.6 percent in the first 10 months from the same period last year, IBGE said. Growth has come in starts and stops, however, as businesses continue to struggle with competition from abroad, high tax and labor costs, and poor infrastructure.
December 3, 2013
Brad Haynes & Silvio Cascione – Reuters, 12/03/2013
Brazil’s economy contracted in the third quarter for the first time since early 2009, falling short of expectations yet again as plunging investment and idle factories wiped out what had already been sluggish growth.
The economy shrank 0.5 percent between July and September from the prior three months, government statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday, missing forecasts in what has become a disappointing routine over the last three years. Gross domestic product had been expected to drop 0.2 percent, according to the median forecast of 40 economists polled by Reuters.
The weak quarter underscored mounting economic concerns in Brazil, which has struggled to contain inflation and stay competitive in recent years, tarnishing the promising reputation it earned with a decade of robust growth.
December 2, 2013
Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA said on Monday its board approved a 2014 investment budget of $14.8 billion, with 80 percent going to develop new iron ore project and logistics.
The company said in a statement it remained committed to developing its Mozambique coal project and its Salobo copper and gold project.
After reaching a peak of $18 billion in annual investment budgets in 2011, Vale said 2014 marked the third consecutive year of declining investments as it refocuses on its core business of iron ore mining.
December 2, 2013
Anderson Antunes – Forbes, 11/28/2013
As many Brazilians are still watching incredulously the imprisonments of the principal figures in the Mensalão (“Big Monthly Payment”) scandal, the scheme in which public funds were used to buy political support for the then-Lula da Silva government and to pay off debts from election campaigns, one of the biggest questions surrounding the imbroglio is: how much money exactly was diverted into the pockets of corrupt officials and politicians?
According to the investigation initiated in 2005 and carried out by Brazil’s Public Ministry, the country’s Federal Police and the Brazilian Court of Audit, the huge cash-for-votes case involved some R$ 100 million ($43 million) siphoned from taxpayers’ money. No wonder why Brazil’s Attorney General Roberto Gurgel called it “the most daring and outrageous corruption scheme and embezzlement of public funds ever seen in Brazil.”
And that could just be the tip of the iceberg. A 2010 study by the FIESP (the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo State, in its acronym in Portuguese), the average annual cost of corruption in Brazil is between 1.38% to 2.3% of the country’s total GDP. The World Bank lists Brazil in its database with a GDP of $2.253 trillion as of 2012, while the OECD expects Brazil to grow 2.5% this year.
December 2, 2013
Shobhan Saxena – The Hindu, 12/02/2013
Just hours before Sao Paulo lost the race for Expo2020 to Dubai, a huge crane crashed at the Itaquerao stadium that will host the opening match, a semi-final and four other games of next year’s FIFA World Cup. As the crane sliced through a canopy, damaged seats and crushed two workers to death on Wednesday, fresh questions were raised about Brazil’s preparedness for the biggest sporting show on the planet.
The accident came amid a scramble to meet the December 31 deadline set by FIFA to deliver all the 12 stadiums where the games would be played.
It was a bad day for the city as its dream of hosting the Expo2020 was shattered just as the mishap at the stadium, which has missed several deadlines, pushed its completion to February 2014. The Itaquerao, 94 per cent finished, was to be handed over to FIFA for inspection soon. But now, the arena has joined six other stadiums which have been struggling to meet the FIFA deadline.
December 2, 2013
Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 12/01/2013
They were heckled and called slaves of a communist state when they first landed, but in the poorest corners of Brazil the arrival of 5,400 Cuban doctors is being welcomed as a godsend.
The program to fill gaps in the national health system with foreign doctors, mainly from Cuba, could become a big vote-winner for President Dilma Rousseff as she eyes a second term in next year’s election despite fierce opposition from Brazil’s medical class.
The move to tap Cuba’s doctors-for-export program begun by former leader Fidel Castro became a priority for Rousseff after massive protests against corruption and shoddy public transport, education and healthcare services rocked Brazil in June.
November 25, 2013
Stephan Nielsen – Bloomberg, 11/25/2013
Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco will auction 180 megawatts of solar farms on Dec. 20 as it seeks to become a manufacturing hub for the expanding industry.
Developers will bid down from a maximum price of 250 reais ($109.13) a megawatt hour and the power plants must be completed within three years, Eduardo Azevedo, Pernambuco’s executive secretary for energy, said today in a telephone interview. Companies that agree to buy the power will qualify for a government rebate on the value-added tax ICMS, so they’ll be effectively paying 164.87 reais a megawatt hour, in line with market rates.
Brazil is seeking to boost investment in solar plants and Pernambuco is well suited to supply equipment, Azevedo said. The state is in talks with German, Korean, Chinese and Italian companies to build factories for solar equipment including inverters and support structures for panels.
November 25, 2013
France 24, 11/24/2013
French anti-riot police have begun training their Brazilian counterparts ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, both of which are expected to provoke large demonstrations like those during the Confederation Cup held in Brazil in June, when millions protested against corruption and poor public services in the country.
“We are preparing ourselves early,” said Marcos Palermo, a Brazilian anti-riot police officer.
The Brazilian police force has come under criticism in the past for its violent handling of riots. With an average of up to 10 demonstrations a day in France, the French police are well positioned to run the training.