Japan PM tells Brazil ‘Abenomics’ working, time to do more business

August 6, 2014

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 8/1/2014

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe touted the success of his economic policies on a visit to Brazil on Friday and said it was time for the two nations to expand their trade and investment partnership.

On the first visit to Brazil in a decade by a Japanese prime minister, Japanese banks extended $700 million in loans to boost Brazilian soy and corn exports to Japan and help finance oil platform construction for Brazil’s growing offshore oil industry.

Abe told Brazilian business leaders that Japan has closed a 15-year deflation cycle since his stimulus policies began to kick in and there is great potential to expand trade and investment with Latin America’s biggest economy.

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Japan Inc. Seeks to Recover Influence in Brazil

August 5, 2014

Juan Pablo Spinetto – Bloomberg, 8/4/2014

In the 1950s, Japan helped Brazil establish industries such as steelmaking and initiated key purchases of Brazilian iron ore. Now the Asian nation is seeking to regain influence in Latin America’s largest economy, where China is the No. 1 trading partner.

Japan has signed deals from energy to food and health care during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the country, the first by a Japanese leader in a decade. Abe wants to strengthen ties with Brazil, where about 1.6 million people of Japanese descent live, as he urges his country’s companies to seek more business outside their domestic market.

Top representatives from Toyota Motor Corp., Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. were among the business people accompanying Abe in Brasilia and Sao Paulo, the last destinations of a nine-day tour through Latin American and the Caribbean. Brazil is important for Japan because it has industries such as infrastructure and is a safe jurisdiction, said Yutaka Kase, the chairman of Tokyo-based commodity supplier Sojitz Corp.

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UBS Brazil CEO Plans Wealth-Management Expansion

August 4, 2014

Cristiane Lucchesi – Bloomberg, 8/3/2014

UBS AG (UBS), the biggest Swiss bank, is considering buying a wealth-management firm in Brazil as it seeks to expand that business sevenfold by 2020, said Sylvia Coutinho, chief executive officer of the lender’s Brazil unit.

“We are looking for acquisition opportunities in the Brazilian market,” Coutinho said July 31 in her first interview since taking the job last year.

UBS plans to hire more people for its wealth business and open offices in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte to serve high-net-worth clients even if it can’t find a firm to buy, she said. The focus will be on those with assets of 5 million reais ($2.2 million) or more to invest, said Coutinho, formerly head of retail banking and wealth management for Latin America at HSBC Holdings Plc.

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Israel Faces Latin American Backlash

July 31, 2014

Robert Kozak – The Wall Street Journal, 7/30/2014

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Wednesday labeled Israel a “terrorist state” and announced that Israelis need visas to visit, the latest in a series of measures Latin American countries have leveled against Israel for the violence in the Gaza Strip.

Criticism of Israeli policies has come from some parts of the world. Latin American countries have stood out by coordinating a range of diplomatic measures, including recalling their ambassadors for consultations and issuing sharply worded statements, political analysts said.

“Israel doesn’t guarantee the principle of respect for life, and the basic right to live in harmony and peace in the international community,” Mr. Morales said Wednesday in a speech in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. There was no immediate Israeli response to Mr. Morale’s accusations or Bolivia’s decision to require that Israeli visitors apply for visas.

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Brazil Real Intervention Out of Sync With Slowdown, IMF Says

July 30, 2014

Sebastian Boyd – Bloomberg, 7/29/2014

The International Monetary Fund said Brazilian central bank President Alexandre Tombini shouldn’t shore up the real as Latin America’s largest economy stalls and inflation accelerates.

Adjusting for inflation, Brazil’s currency was 5 percent to 15 percent stronger than “implied by fundamentals and desirable policies” in 2013, IMF economists wrote in a research report published today. The real has appreciated 5.9 percent this year against the dollar while inflation accelerated to a 13-month high and economic growth slowed.

The central bank said last month it was extending through the end of 2014 a currency intervention program aimed at helping to boost the real and curb prices for imports. After nine consecutive increases in the target lending rate, policy makers held it at 11 percent on July 16 for a second straight meeting. The central bank didn’t return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment today.

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Brazil Leads Latin American Ecommerce Growth, Becoming Amazon’s Biggest Foreign Market

July 25, 2014

Robert Schoon – Latin Post, 7/24/2014

Latin America, led particularly by Brazil, is continuing rapid growth in its online economy, according to a new study by Internet Retailer. And the boom in ecommerce is good news not only for Latin American Internet retailers, but also for some prominent U.S.-based companies as well — especially Amazon.com.

According to the new 2014 edition of the “Latin America 500,” an annual report by ecommerce research and analysis firm Internet Retailer, Latin America, as a whole, remains the world’s second fastest-growing ecommerce market — only trailing behind China. And Brazil is leading the way, thanks to high Internet penetration rates, a booming market for affordable mobile devices, and an increasingly digital culture.

Internet Retailer ranked the top 500 web merchants in Latin America by sales and 128 other data points — like sales growth rates, web traffic, average checkouts, social media prominence, etc. — tracking retailers in 12 of the most digitally active Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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World Cup Economics: Why Brazil’s Bashers Have Got It Wrong

June 25, 2014

Nathaniel Parish Flannery – Forbes, 6/23/2014

In Brazil, the World Cup has sparked protests from activists interested in drawing attention to their country’s persistent problems of poverty and inequality. In 2013 protesters held up English language signs emblazoned with messages such as “WE DON’T NEED THE WORLD CUP” and “WE NEED MONEY FOR HOSPITALS AND EDUCATION.” However, as political scientists Diego von Vacano and Thiago Silva explained in their excellent article for The Washington Post, “the protests are paradoxical, because Brazil has enjoyed very significant social and economic improvements since the country bid for the event in 2003.”

More broadly, the 2014 World Cup highlights Latin America’s economic emergence over the last decade. The sea of yellow jerseys that can be seen at Colombia’s games and the packed sections of cheering Mexicans wearing green and cheering to support their team are a testament to Latin America’s recent economic success and growing middle class. According to soccer historian David Goldblatt, “Television pictures can be deceptive, and wearing a Colombian shirt is no guarantee of citizenship, but the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte was awash with yellows — perhaps 20,000 in a crowd of 57,000. The Chilean media has been reporting that up to 10,000 are making the trip to Brazil, and it looked as if they were all present in Cuiaba as the national team swept past Australia.”

In 2011, for the first time in history, Latin America’s middle class outnumbered the region’s poor. Brazil in particular, stands out for its success in investing in social programs and reducing poverty.

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Brazil confident Paraguay will be returning to Mercosur before the end of the year

October 21, 2013

MercoPress, 10/21/2013

“We know the return is going to take place and we hope it occurs before the end of the year, so that Paraguay can participate in the summit of Caracas in December” said President Dilma Rousseff’s advisor.

Paraguay was suspended from Mercosur since 29 July 2012 until last 15 August when current president Horacio Cartes took office. Paraguay with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are founding members of the bloc which incorporated Venezuela in 2012, virtually the same day it applied the ‘democratic clause’ suspending one of its members.

Paraguay was sanctioned following the removal of then president Fernando Lugo, which Mercosur defined as a ‘rupture of democratic order’ but was overcome with the presidential elections of last April and the inauguration of Cartes.

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Latam Airlines to continue reducing Brazil capacity in 2013

March 20, 2013

Graciela Ibanez and Paulo Winterstein – Fox Business/Dow Jones Newswires, 03/20/2013

Chilean holding company Latam Airlines Group SA (LFL, LAN.SN) this year will continue reducing the passenger capacity of its Brazilian domestic operations, Chief Financial Officer Alejandro De la Fuente said Wednesday.

Brazil’s poor economic performance took a toll on passenger demand as gross domestic product last year expanded at its slowest pace since 2009, coupled with rising fuel costs and taxes.

For 2013, economists reduced their growth expectations recently amid continued inflationary pressures.

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Brazil Papal Contender: Place of Birth Irrelevant

February 14, 2013

Bradley Brooks – ABC News, 02/14/2013

The archbishop of one of the world’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese and a man thought to be a leading Latin American contender to succeed Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that neither geographic origin nor age should matter much in determining the next pontiff.

Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, 63, shrugged off questions about whether this might be the moment for a Latin American pope, and whether he might be the man to take the role.

“It would be very pretentious for a cardinal to say, ‘I am prepared,'” Scherer said. “No one is going to say ‘I am a candidate.'”

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