Article written for the Rotary Club of Seattle.
Although we are more than seven thousand miles from the South American giant,
Seattle is as present as ever in the Brazilian economy.
Now it's time for small and medium entrepreneurs.
* Pedro Augusto Costa
You, who lives in Washington State, might be aware of some of the Seattle businesses invested in the economy of the sixth economic power in the world. But here it is worth recalling:
- Boeing deals with Brazil as one of its priority markets, not only for having two large customers, TAM and GOL, but also because the Brazilian government urgently needs to renew its Air Force. Recently, the company has established a research center in the yard of Embraer, the Brazilian Boeing.
- Amazon is already present in Brazil with its web-services, but is now increasing its business in the country with the retail division and Kindle. After all, the company name was fished from the world's largest river by volume of water, which by the way is bordered by the world's largest rainforest, the lungs of the planet.
- Starbucks started in 2007 in Brazil, the largest coffee producer in the world, with only 30 stores. Doing very well, especially in Rio and São Paulo, Starbucks fell in love with Brazilians. The same store in Seattle is reproduced exactly in Brazilian cities, but with the addition of “ de ”, the famous cheese bread is a hit there.
- , the largest social network of language teaching in the world, has had tremendous success in Brazil, which has more than four million of the 14 million users. Recently, the operation was sold in Brazil to the group Education in April, the country's largest publishing house, for a few million dollars. Rosetta Stone has now just bought in order to invest tremendously in Brazil.
F5, , and hundreds of other companies based in Seattle are also part of this gold rush to Brazil. Seattle, which until recently only paid attention to China and other Asian countries, now loves Brazil.
And vice versa. More than Miami or New York, where much of the 1.2 million Brazilians living in the United States are centralized, Seattle is a favorite destination for Brazilians in the United States. There is a natural enchantment with the sea, the mountains and, I dare to say, the rain that falls here and in Brazil.
Brazil has finally arrived onto the world stage, and this fact brings a lot of opportunities for Washingtonians, especially in the areas of airspace, biotechnology and Internet related businesses. Furthermore, to celebrate our culture and what a recent CNN's pool announced as Brazilians being " the most friendly and nicest people on earth", the Seattle Art Museum is planning a huge exhibition of Brazilian Modern Art, spanning from the sixties till the present.
On the economical side, Brazil's main indicators demonstrate that the country is riding out of the present financial crisis much faster than many of the developed countries. Last year, after decades dogged by its boom-and-bust economy, it got to the top of the league table when Moody’s upgraded it to investment grade status.
Figures released recently show Brazil´s economy is growing fast, annually. We now have a "middle class" market of 140 million people, avid to buy products and services, especially from the USA, our favorite country in the World.
Brazilians are the third largest spender in the United States, notably in Florida real estate. They are spending US$ 5.918,00 per capita every visit they make to the U.S., an increment of 250% since 2003, following only behind the British and the Japanese.
In the business sector, Brazilians own companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Burger King, Swift and several steel mills in this country. Embraer (our Boeing) is the third largest aircraft manufacturer in the world and there have been in talks over Boeing working together.
In the past years, Brazil has discovered the largest oil deposits in the country's history and the World’s most promising fields since the discoveries made in Kazakhstan, in 2000.
It expects to go from production of between 2 and 2.4 million barrels of petroleum daily to 5.7 million in 2020. The discoveries in the pre-salt layer, first announced in late 2007, could eventually lead to a nearly to a six-fold increase in Brazil’s current proven reserves of 14 billion barrels and transform the leading (Common Market of the South) member in a major oil exporter. Brazil is also one of the leading nations when it comes to clean fuel. About a third of the fuel Brazilians use in their vehicles is ethanol, known as 'alcohol.' That compares with three percent in the United States.
All gasoline sold in Brazil contains at least 26% ethanol and motorists driving flexible-fuel cars have the option of filling up with pure ethanol. To add to that, the country has a flourishing industry of biodiesel made of native grasses.
With nearly 200 million inhabitants, Brazil today is the fifth most populous country. It has been among the World's leading recipients of foreign direct investment (FDI) in recent years. The total stock of foreign direct investment in Brazil more than tripled in the five years through the end of 2010 to $660.5 billion. The figure is equal to 30.8% of gross domestic product. A study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows that Brazil is among the five top destinations for FDI besides China, India, the U.S. and Russia. One of the main achievements of Brazil in the last few years was to have brought more than 40 million of the poor into the consumer market. The country still has a long way to go to socially change one of the most unequal societies in the world. On the other hand, with more than 100 million voters, Brazil is a vigorous and vibrant democracy, which differs from its BRIC partners – Russia, India and China –, making its international economic ascension more relevant.
But the numbers of its economy don´t excite Brazilians as much as the fact that, in the next year, the country will be hosting two of the major international sports events. When executive committee announced that Brazil would host the world Cup in 2014, there was a frisson in the country.
The last time Brazil hosted the tournament was in 1950, when it lost the final match to Uruguay, in the , in Rio. Thus, Brazilians thought it was time to host it again. What they weren´t expecting was that they would get the 2016 Olympics as well.
*Honorary Consul of Brazil in Seattle