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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exporting-to-brazil/exporting-to-brazil
1. Brazil export overview
Brazil is the seventh biggest economy in the world with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 2.3 trillion.
It is by far the biggest economy in Latin America. It includes large states such São Paulo with an economy bigger than Argentina.
Contact a Department for International Trade (DIT) Brazil export adviser for a free consultation if you are interested in exporting to Brazil.
400 of the world’s 500 largest companies operate in Brazil. These include many UK companies, such as Rolls Royce, Shell, BP, JCB, Rexam and Experian. Shell is now the largest foreign company operating in Brazil following their acquisition of BG Group in February 2016.
Benefits for UK businesses exporting to Brazil include:
- European oriented culture and business practices
- political stability
- expanding consumer market
Strengths of the Brazilian market include:
- strong and globally integrated business base
- solid and modern banking system, with presence of world’s largest investment banks
- expanding labour force
2. Challenges doing business in Brazil
Brazil has enormous potential for UK companies, but it will take time, money and effort. Challenges include:
- complex tax system with high taxes
- complex regulatory system
- local content laws in certain sectors
- long journeys between cities and states, where cultures can vary significantly
- a lot of importance is put on personal contact so you may need to visit several times before securing a deal
- ranked 76 in the Transparency International’s corruption perception index (CPI)
- ranked poorly in World Bank’s ease of doing business index
- organised crime is a significant problem in some parts of Brazil
Read the Overseas business risk report for Brazil.
You should ensure you take the necessary steps to comply with the requirements of the UK Bribery Act.
3. Growth potential
3.1 Economic growth
Brazil was responsible for 3% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014 and about 1% of global trade in 2015. More than 35 million Brazilians have been lifted out of poverty into the emerging middle class over the last 10 years.
Brazil’s services sector accounts for more than two thirds of its GDP, followed by industry and agriculture. The combined value of these sectors was USD 1.6 trillion (BRL5.9 trillion) in 2015.
A 3.7% to 5% contraction in Brazil’s GDP is expected in 2016. However, growth of 1% to 2% is forecast in 2017 with sustainable growth expected to resume in 2018. The current economic downturn may represent opportunities for foreign investors.
Brazil has identified infrastructure as a priority sector for resuming growth and sustainable economic development. This includes road and air transport, cargo logistics and energy.
Although growth has slowed in the last few years the current economic downturn may offer opportunities for foreign investors. Foreign led transactions in the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) sector, for example, grew by 5% in 2015. Investment opportunities range from IT to pharmaceutical, insurance to mining, energy and oil and gas.
3.2 Latin America
Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America. It is a gateway for business in neighbouring countries.
The largest port in the continent is Santos, in the State of São Paulo. It is the point of access for most imports from Europe.
3.3 Free Trade Agreements
The UK does not currently have a free trade agreement (FTA) with Brazil.
Mercosur is south America’s leading trade bloc which:
- encompasses Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela
- has tariff free trade between its member states
- has a regional market of over 250 million people
4. UK and Brazil trade
Brazil and the UK have long historic trade and investment ties. UK goods exports more than doubled between 2002 and 2012. UK services exports were 59% higher in 2014 than in 2009.
In 2015, although overall imports into Brazil fell by 14.3%, UK goods exports only fell by 5%.
Top UK exports to Brazil include:
- electrical appliances
- chemical products (mainly fungicides)
The UK was the fourth largest investor in Brazil in 2013 with a stock of investments worth USD 61 billion. It earned £2.5 billion in 2014 in net primary income flows from its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and portfolio investments in Brazil.
5. Opportunities for UK businesses in Brazil
DIT provides free international export sales leads from its worldwide network. Search for export opportunities.
Brazil has the largest healthcare market in Latin America. It’s worth £78 billion, representing 10.2% of GDP.
The Brazilian medical devices market is predicted to grow by 15% to 25% per year during this decade. This demand comes mainly from patients with chronic diseases (almost 85% of the elderly). The market was worth £7 billion in 2015. Imports made up 70% of consumption and were valued at £3.7 billion.
There are opportunities for UK companies in:
- designing and managing hospitals
- healthcare systems
- medical devices
Contact Sector Manager email@example.com for more information on the healthcare sector.
Brazil has a strong shipbuilding industry which delivers vessels for a variety of applications.
USD 100 billion is forecast to be invested between 2012 and 2020 in Brazil’s commercial marine industry. There are opportunities for UK companies in all areas including:
- maritime equipment
- marine construction and maintenance
- maritime navigation
5.3 Oil and gas
Brazil is the largest energy market in South America and has the second largest oil reserves in Latin America. Petrobras plans to invest USD 98 billion by 2019. Shell is the second largest company and has a strong portfolio of investments in Brazil.
Brazil is particularly interested in the UK’s expertise in the following areas:
- bringing challenging oil and gas projects to completion
- offshore equipment and services
- subsea technologies
- inspection, repair and maintenance
Brazil’s £6.7 billion investment plan aims to make sanitation services available to all by 2033. Private sector operators will have a major role in this process.
Current only 82.5% of the population have access to water supply. 48.6% has access to sewage collection systems, but only 39% of the sewage is treated.
Opportunities for UK companies include:
- partnering with local companies in public private partnership (PPP) / concessions to design, build and operate new municipal water and sewage systems, solid waste management facilities and energy recovery plants
- water quality monitoring equipment
- water distribution network instrumentation
- energy saving water and wastewater pumping and aeration technologies
- membranes and sludge treatment techniques
Contact Sector Manager firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the water sector.
Brazil has the second biggest private education market in the world. Brazil’s market for private elementary schools is highly fragmented and would potentially be an opportunity for acquisition by UK school groups.
Companies and educational institutions in Brazil are expected to invest more in distance learning as a tool to reduce costs in teaching.
Contact email@example.com for more information on the education sector.
The estimated investment in Brazil’s mining sector between 2014 and 2018 is USD 53.6 billion. Brazil is the largest producer of niobium, the second largest producer of magnesite, and the third of iron ore and graphite. There is also significant production of rare earth minerals and gold.
Opportunities for UK companies:
- innovative technology, including in sustainable reuse of waste, dam tailings solutions and water treatment
- environmental and water services expertise
- equipment, especially focused on cost reduction and productivity gains
- other supply chain products and services, including energy efficiency, project and asset management, health and safety, IT solutions and security systems
- port and rail logistics
- research and development, including industrial applications of advanced materials
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the mining sector in Brazil.
5.7 Food and drink
Brazilian consumers are well travelled and prepared to pay more for high quality imports. Brazil has the largest middle class in Latin America with an appetite for quality goods.
Brazilian importers are interested in:
- confectionery, jams, biscuits, teas, food with health-giving additives (‘functional food’)
- beer, cider, gin
- ready to eat products
- ethnic sauces
UK products will be treated as premium because of high import duties. UK companies interested in exploring the market will need to be open to negotiating prices to adjust them to the local market.
Contact email@example.com for more information on opportunities in the food and drink sector.
Brazil is the world’s second largest supplier of food and agricultural products. The sector is also responsible for one-third of Brazil’s total energy supply through a complex bio-renewables supply chain.
Brazil needs access to innovative technologies to improve yields and efficiency. Opportunities exist for British companies in:
- animal health and wellbeing
- agricultural machinery and equipment
- precision agriculture
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on opportunities in the agri-tech sector.
5.9 Technology and smart cities
Smart technologies are already being implemented in Brazil to:
- manage use of resources in cities
- facilitate the movement of people
- improve emergency services coverage
- make shopping more efficient
There are opportunities for UK companies in:
- big data
- security and surveillance
- risk assessment
- 3D modelling
Contact email@example.com for more information on opportunities in the technology sector.
6. Start-up considerations
The most common options for a UK company starting up in Brazil are:
- agents or distributors
- limited liability company
- joint venture
- direct or indirect investment
Contact the DIT team in Brazil to help find tax and legal advisers before entering into agreements as the tax and legal obligations of each business structure can differ.
7. Legal considerations
Brazil has a complex system of regulation for imports. Multiple government agencies are involved in the control, labelling, packaging and quality/safety requirements for different products.
You should seek expert advice from a legal professional or import agency before exporting to Brazil:
- GOV.UK has a list of lawyers for Brazil
- The British Chamber of Commerce in Brazil has a number of members offering legal advice and services to companies exporting to Brazil.
Alternatively contact DIT Brazil for advice.
7.1 Standards and technical regulations
You need to check whether any certifications are required before your product can be sold in Brazil.
7.2 Intellectual property (IP)
Brazil is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Its legal provisions are generally consistent with international standards.
A new trademark and patent agreement law was enacted in Brazil in 1996. It follows international standards established by the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Legal processes in Brazil can be time consuming and costly. It is highly advisable to understand the system and get professional advice regarding the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Find out more about protecting your IP in Brazil.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on IP in Brazil.
8. Tax and customs considerations
The Brazilian tax year starts in January and ends in December. There are a number of taxes in Brazil, these include:
- COF, a social security tax
- STT, a state tax of 17 or 18%
- PIS, income tax
- ICMS, value added tax which varies between states
- IPI, excise tax
- ISS, service tax
- IOF, financial transactions tax
- import tax – value depends on product classification defined by WTO regulation (origin and specifications); 60% for less than £2,000 regardless of product classification
The Brazilian Chamber of Foreign Trade (CAMEX) ex-tariff list is a special tax regime. It gives a temporary reduction in import duty rates on capital goods, information technology (IT) goods and telecommunications goods that are not produced in Brazil.
Contact the DIT team in Brazil to find out more about the operation of the ex-tariff list and applying for an exemption from import duty.
Contact DIT) Brazil for information on professionals who can give you advice on taxation in Brazil.
You will need to know what import duties a product will attract when it lands in Brazil. High duties may make an export too expensive for the Brazilian market.
You can find out about import tariffs in the Market Access Database.
Brazil’s tax authority, Receita Federal, grants Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) certificates to trusted Brazilian companies. Companies on the programme receive priority treatment for exporting and importing goods. Contact email@example.com for more information on the AEO programme.
9. Entry requirements
If you are travelling to Brazil on a British passport you won’t need a visa. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months and a return ticket and proof of funds may be requested on arrival. Visitors aren’t allowed to work while in Brazil.
9.1 Travel Advice
If you’re travelling to Brazil for business, check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice first.
Contact the DIT team in Brazil for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in Brazil.