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Our Miami CPA Firm has many clients from Brazil which is a continent-sized country with a $2.2 trillion economy and is South Florida’s largest trading partner as well as the source of hundreds of thousands of free-spending visitors who are snapping up everything from ocean-view condos to U.S. companies.
And that means it is high time that Miami-Dade County had a well-thought-out, multi-year game plan to take advantage of the opportunities the burgeoning Brazilian economy presents, as well as to meet the challenges of doing business with the world’s seventh-largest economy. So last week before an overflow audience, the Beacon Council put on a Brazil Business Development Strategy Conference with the goal of compiling a white paper on Brazil that will serve as a road map for a new business relationship.
The Miami conference comes on the heels of a successful visit to Brazil by President Barack Obama whose goal was to reset political and economic relations with a country that has a huge appetite for American products, is sitting on oil discoveries that could potentially make it one of the world’s largest oil exporters, is a stable and friendly democracy, and is on an infrastructure building binge as it readies for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
The Beacon Council conference explored everything from investment and trade opportunities in Brazil to investment by Brazilian companies in South Florida and how to spur travel and tourism between the two countries. Last year, Brazil became Miami-Dade’s first “billion-dollar’’ international market with Brazilians spending $1.1 billion during their visits.
While the United States has traditionally been Brazil’s top trading partner, it no longer is. Now it is China, which has been snapping up Brazilian agricultural products and raw materials, pushing up the price of commodities and pumping up growth. Brazil is the world’s top exporter of beef, poultry, sugar, coffee, orange juice concentrate, tobacco, and ethanol and the second-largest exporter of soybeans. Brazil has a trade surplus with China, but a trade deficit with the United States. But that trade deficit is largely the product of a very strong real that makes U.S. products relatively cheap for Brazilian buyers. What also differentiates trade with the two countries is that Brazil buys mostly manufactured products from China and sells commodities, but manufactured products are in its export mix to the United States.
And just because there is plenty of potential for business with Brazil doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. Right now the Brazilian government is trying to strike the right equilibrium to keep its economy growing without stimulating inflation, and while the middle class is growing, Brazil still has serious income distribution problems. Meanwhile, high-interest rates in Brazil are attracting lots of capital from abroad but that also contributes to strengthening the real, which is making Brazilian exports less competitive.
Sao Paulo-based Odebrecht, the largest construction and engineering firm in Latin America and also a major builder in South Florida, is heavily involved. It will be building four of the World Cup stadiums, taking a stake in two — including the new Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo. It is involved in the renovation of Rio’s famed soccer stadium, Maracana, and is also engaged in Rio’s $24 billion port revamp, Port Maravilha. There are big opportunities in Brazil now. And they aren’t just related to the games. An Odebrecht company is the world leader in ethanol production, another division builds oil platforms for Petrobras, and Odebrecht also is a leader in the construction of hydro-electric projects. There are also big opportunities in affordable housing construction in Brazil.
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