Santos Port has always been known as Brazil’s gateway to the world. Now, it’s also a window into what went wrong in Latin America’s biggest economy.
Exports from Santos have tumbled as demand from China sags. Companies betting on a boon as massive offshore oil finds were developed are now scaling back after Petroleo Brasileiro SA said it will cut investments by a third. And real-estate prices are falling as entire buildings stand vacant.
Nowhere, perhaps, are Brazil’s unfulfilled promises as an almost superpower more apparent than Santos, Latin America’s busiest port. About an hour outside of Sao Paulo, Santos benefited from the dual boon of the commodities supercycle and the government spending spree it afforded. Now, it’s feeling the double blow of a corruption scandal at Petrobras and Brazil’s worst recession in a quarter century.