|EXPANSION IN USA-BRAZIL TRADE
ARTICLE BY ROSALIENE BACCHUS
In 2001, Goldman Sacks pushed Brazil into the limelight when the American investment banking firm coined
the BRIC acronym. As the B in BRIC, Brazil entered the club of fast-growing developing economies along with
Russia, India, and China. Since then, South America’s largest economy and the world’s tenth continues to
bloom as an agricultural and industrial powerhouse.
Between 2004 and 2008, Brazil’s economy averaged a 4.8 percent growth. This is a phenomenal achievement
when compared with the average snail-pace 2.5 percent growth of earlier decades. The collapse of the global
financial market in September 2008 has slowed the South American giant on its race forward. The World Bank
estimates that Brazil’s economic growth will slip about 0.5 percent in 2009 from 5.1 percent in 2008.
Brazil’s advances in important economic, social, and environmental policies have resulted in macroeconomic
stability, reduction in poverty, and expansion of its domestic market. Increased production and
high prices for its agricultural and mineral products accelerated export growth, resulting in trade surpluses. An
expanding presence in world markets led to increased participation in the World Trade Organization and other
Based on export figures published by Brazil’s Secretariat of Foreign Trade (SECEX), the United States was
Brazil’s largest single-country trading partner until surpassed recently by China. Foreign trade statistics
compiled by the US Census Bureau for the period 1985 to 2008 reveal steady increases in US-Brazil
trade until 2003 when trade exploded. Over the last six years, US imports from and exports to Brazil soared by
70 percent and 188 percent respectively. With this expansion of commerce, Brazil has risen to the tenth
position among US trading partners.
Civilian aircraft, engines, equipment and parts topped America’s exports to Brazil in 2008. In descending
order, other main exports included organic chemicals; computer accessories; plastic materials;
telecommunications equipment; chemical fertilizers; semiconductors; metallurgical grade coal; pharmaceutical
preparations; and petroleum products.
In addition to pharmaceutical preparations, other American consumer products have obtained success in the
Brazilian market. Over the period 2004 to 2008, the products with the highest export growth included gems
and diamonds (438%); artwork, antiques, stamps, etc. (318%); textile apparel and household goods (292%);
records, tapes and disks (188%); rugs (187%); toiletries and cosmetics (180%); non-textile apparel
and household goods (173%); and books and printed matter (150%).
Crude oil surpassed all US imports from Brazil. Other top Brazilian imports in 2008 comprised – in
descending order – civilian aircraft; semi-finished iron and steel mill products; pulpwood and wood pulp;
automotive engines and engine parts; green coffee; other petroleum products; industrial engines, pumps,
compressors and generators; automotive parts and accessories; and other farm products (tobacco, waxes,
Among consumer products, footwear held thirteenth position among US imports from Brazil in 2008. Falling
by 53 percent over the period 2004 to 2008, Brazilian footwear has steadily lost ground in the US market.
Brazilian consumer products with growth over the same period include medical, dental and pharmaceutical
preparations (309%); fruits and preparations, including frozen juices (195%); soft beverages, processed
coffee and other beverages (115%); toys, shooting and sporting goods, and bicycles (63%); precious, semi-
precious and imitation gem stones (58%); and toiletries and cosmetics (54%).
Following the collapse of the global financial market in September 2008, the flow of goods between the two
trading partners slowed in 2009. US trade figures for the first semester of 2009 indicated contractions of
20 percent in exports to Brazil and 36 percent in Brazilian imports. With the prospects of global economic
recovery in the years ahead, US-Brazil trade should return to 2008 levels and continue its expansion.
Article published in the Brazil Explore Magazine, Los Angeles, California, USA, September 2009.
Reprinted with permission.
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Source: US Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics