News from Brazil

Brazil Politics & Regional News

In Brazil on August 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff continues to enjoy high popularity as Brazilian consumers remain largely unfazed by a recent economic slowdown and very optimistic about their country’s future. About 57 percent of those polled said they thought Rousseff’s government was either “great” or “good,” according to the survey by the National Transport Confederation, or CNT. That was up from 49 percent in the CNT’s last poll, released in August 2011 (Reuters).

The Brazilian government unveiled a big nationwide plan to help lessen the impact of natural disasters and improve risk management. Brazilian authorities have earmarked 18.8 billion reais (9.3 billion U.S. dollars) for the program, known as the National Plan for Risk Management and Response to Natural Disasters, which aims to improve government performance in disaster prevention, response and monitoring (Xinhua).

Six years after tougher laws were introduced in Brazil to stiffen the punishment for spousal abuse, thousands of women across the country continue to suffer from domestic violence each day, the government said (Xinhua)

The Brazilian Senate has approved a bill that reserves half the places in the country’s prestigious federal universities to state school students. African-Brazilian Senator Paulo Paim said most Brazilians would benefit as only 10% of students graduated from private schools. President Dilma Rousseff is now expected to sign the bill into law. But the measure has attracted criticism, as it also sets up quotas based on racial background (BBC).

It’s not unusual for Latin American countries to prosecute politicians for real or imagined corrupt practices: in fact, most new governments go after their political rivals from preceding governments as soon as they can. But Brazil is doing something much more noteworthy: it is prosecuting prominent leaders of the ruling party (Miami Herald).

As a truth commission begins examining the military’s crackdown on the population during a dictatorship that lasted two decades, Brazilians are riveted by chilling details emerging about the painful pasts of both their country and their president (The New York Times).

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INTERNATIONAL

Mexico could overtake Brazil as Latin America’s number-one economy in 10 years, according to research by economists at Nomura. Mexico could become a ‘jaguar’ economy, similar to the fast-growing ‘tiger’ economies of East Asia, if its newly-elected government succeeds in kick-starting lackluster growth with ambitious economic reforms, Nomura said (Reuters).

Guinea said it launched an investigation into violence near a large iron-ore mine project as a report seen by Reuters showed photos of five people rights groups said had been killed by security forces during a protest. The clashes between security forces and villagers demanding jobs took place last week in Zogota, where a joint venture between Brazil’s Vale, the world’s second largest mining company, and Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz’s BSG Resources (BSGR) is seeking to build iron an ore mine (Reuters).

Paraguayan interim President Federico Franco criticized that Venezuela’s recent entry into the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) had converted the trade bloc into a social club (Xinhua).

Brazil rejected claims that it received Paraguay’s share of energy from a joint hydroelectric plant for free. “There is no giving away. It is bought. This energy does not come to Brazil for free,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tovar Nunes said, adding that its purchasing of Paraguay’s excess energy was permitted in the Itaipu treaty signed in 1973, in which the two countries agreed to build the Itaipu dam of the power plant (Xinhua).

Brazil is the only country that in the last ten years has benefited from Mercosur with an intra-zone trade surplus of 36.8 billion dollars while the other three full members, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay have accumulated huge deficits in the same period, according to Argentine economist Orlando Ferreres a regular columnist from La Nacion with graduate studies in Harvard (MercoPress).

The array of aid projects and loans recently extended to African countries points both to Brazil’s ambitions of projecting greater influence in the developing world and to the expanding business allure of Africa, where some economies are rapidly growing even as parts of the continent still grapple with wars and famine. The charm offensive is paying off in surging trade flows between Brazil and Africa, growing to $27.6 billion in 2011 from $4.3 billion in 2002 (The New York Times).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil has reinforced its southern borders with 9,000 additional troops as the fifth stage of an ongoing crime-busting operation. The security reinforcement, officially named Operation Agatha 5, started on Monday and will last for 20 to 30 days along the nation’s borders with Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. The troops were backed by several helicopters, patrol ships, jets and armored vehicles (Xinhua).

Embraer Defense and Security has delivered four light attack and tactical training A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to Indonesia’s Air Force at a ceremony held in its facility in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo, Brazil. Indonesia is the first operator of Super Tucano in the Asia-Pacific region (Embraer).

The strike declared by the Brazilian Federal Police is beginning to cause difficulties at international airports, delaying the crossing of visitors to neighbouring countries and some organized pickets have been marching in front of federal government offices (MercoPress).

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Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on August 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

ECONOMY

A spike in food prices pushed up Brazil’s inflation rate in July but probably not fast enough to stop the central bank from cutting interest rates this month for the ninth straight time (Reuters).

An exchange rate of over 2 reais to the U.S. dollar lends competitiveness to Brazil’s industrial sector, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said (Reuters).

Brazil’s services sector shrank in July at the fastest pace in over three years, according to a private survey, raising doubts on whether the world’s sixth-largest economy will rebound as expected over the next months (Reuters).

Brazil’s economic growth will accelerate in the second half of the year, said Aldo Mendes, the central bank director for monetary policy (Bloomberg).

Some 58.2 percent of Brazilians use their monthly salary to pay off “installment debt,” according to a new survey by the Instituto Brasileiro de Economia (Brazilian Institute of Economics, Ibre-FGV). Yet the survey also showed most debts were short-term: 78.4 percent had installment repayment plans of six months or less, and only 10.1 percent had taken out plans for twelve months or more (The Rio Times).

Brazil should be able to achieve moderate growth in 2012, while most of the OECD’s 34 member economies will lose steam in the coming months, the economic grouping said (Xinhua).

DIRECT DATA

Check out the latest economic indicators in English directly at Brazil’s BCB or central bank, the Sao Paulo stock Eechange BM&F Bovespa and Brazil’s statistics institute, IBGE.

BUSINESS

Dutch food and chemicals group DSM has agreed to buy privately-held Brazilian animal nutrition company Tortuga for about 465 million euros ($578 million) to strengthen its presence in Latin America, making its fourth big acquisition (Reuters).

Realtime launched in the US and announced a $100 million investment to help the world transition from static to live web. Based in Brazil, Realtime has developed technology that enables the Internet to update instantaneously and continuously. Rather than a request-and-response protocol, Realtime is powered by  Open Real Time Connectivity. With ORTC,  applications can update directly from the server to the connected user without manually refreshing the page (Reuters).

Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate arm of Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, announced it is growing its commercial real estate portfolio in Brazil with a C$132.8 million ($132.9 million) investment in the country (Reuters).

Buyers of equipment made by Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Trina Solar Ltd.  — three of the world’s four largest panel makers — aren’t eligible for loans at below-market rates from state bank BNDES. That leaves Campinas, Brazil-based Tecnometal Equipamentos Ltda. as the only maker of subsidized panels that turn sunlight into electricity (Bloomberg).

Arcadis NV, the largest Dutch designer of dikes that last week forecast 2012 profit from operations would rise 20 to 25 percent, acquired Brazil’s biggest water engineering and consultancy company. The company said it bought ETEP Consultoria, Gerenciamento e Servicos Ltda. to expand in the Brazilian water market (Bloomberg).

EBX Group has committed an investment of 6 billion U.S. dollars in ” high impact” projects in Malaysia in a move that could mark the beginning of strong economic ties between the two countries. Malaysia’s government announced this after EBX Group Chairman and Brazil’s richest man, Eike Batista, paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Najib Razak at the latter’s office in Putrajaya (Xinhua).

An unreleased version of the ranking of billionaires in the magazine “Forbes” puts Eike Batista in a “technical tie” with businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann on the list of the richest people in the country (Folha).

AGRI ETC.

The Brazilian government lowered its forecast for the country’s cane crop this April-March season, while holding stable the view of its expected sugar output, which accounts for half of global exports of the sweetener (Reuters).

Brazilian sugar cane mills are vulnerable to a wave of takeovers in which deep-pocketed groups devour fragile neighbors, while soft sugar and ethanol prices weaken small mills and make building new ones too costly, industry analysts said (Reuters).

Brazil set a minimum price of 10.10 reais ($4.96) per 40.8-kilogram box of oranges in an attempt to help farmers sell excess production profitably. The excess production will be sold through auctions, the Agriculture Ministry said. Brazil wants to develop the domestic orange juice market, said Jose Carlos Vaz, the ministry’s executive secretary (Bloomberg).

Brazil will reap a record grain harvest of 163.3 million tons this year, a gain of two per cent over 2011, the IBGE statistics agency says. The IBGE’s latest forecast, based on July data is 1.6% higher than the previous projection (MercoPress).

Prices of Brazilian crop land have soared 18% in the past year, to judge by data from one of the country’s biggest agricultural groups, which revealed plans to take sowings nearly to 300,000 hectares, according to Agrimoney.com (MercoPress).

AUTOMOTIVE

Japanese automaker Toyota said it will invest about 1 billion reais ($494 million) to build a new Brazilian engine factory supplying local car plants, bringing more of its supply chain to Brazil under government pressure (Reuters).

General Motors Co and a Brazilian union have agreed to postpone until November a politically sensitive decision to eliminate as many as 1,840 jobs at a factory near São Paulo (Reuters).

BANKING & FINANCE

Net income at BTG Pactual , Brazil’s sole listed investment bank, more than doubled in the second quarter as successful bets on principal investments helped offset a surge in payroll and operational expenses (Reuters).

State-run bank Caixa Econômica Federal plans to increase its loan book by a whopping 42 percent this year, expanding mortgage and consumer lending as state and private- sector rivals retrench, Chief Executive Jorge Hereda said (Reuters).

Brazil bulls. They do exist. Beyondbrics has found one in the form of Caixa Economico, the Brazilian bank wholly owned by the government.

Bank of America Corp has plucked four Brazilian employees from Morgan Stanley, including the new head of its equities business in Latin America (Reuters).

Itau Unibanco is considering a bid for Citizens, the American unit of British state-controlled lender Royal Bank of Scotland , the Sunday Times reported (Reuters).

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MINING & STEEL

Vale SA forecasts it will miss base- metals output targets for a second year, fueling calls from analysts for the company to sell at least part of the business plagued by strikes and sinking prices (Reuters).

OIL & GAS

Petrobras has not received approval for additional increases in domestic fuel prices and there is no increase “on the horizon,” Finance Minister Guido Mantega, who is also chairman of the Petrobras board, said (Reuters).

Singapore’s Keppel Corp , the world’s biggest oil rig maker, said its Brazil unit FELS Brasil S/A has secured two contracts worth a total of about $950 million from Petrobras-led consortiums Guara BV and Tupi BV (Reuters).

Sembcorp Marine Ltd, the world’s second-largest oil rig builder, said it has secured contracts worth about $4 billion from Sete Brasil, highlighting Brazil’s push to become one of the world’s three largest oil producers (Reuters).

OGX Petroleo e Gas SA , Brazil’s No. 2 oil company by market value, restarted output over the weekend at an offshore well northeast of Rio de Janeiro where production was suspended in June, a company spokesman told Reuters.

Petrobras revealed its first quarterly loss in 13 years. In dollar terms, Petrobras lost $685 million, compared with profits of more than $5 billion in the first quarter. It is a considerable accomplishment for an oil company to lose hundreds of millions of dollars during a quarter when crude prices are over $100 a barrel. Indeed, a closer look shows the results for what they are; a damming indictment of Brazil’s oil policy, which is sending Petrobras down the route of debt and financial losses that have long been the curse of Mexico’s state oil monopoly, Pemex (Reuters).

From it’s multi-billion dollar secondary share offering a few years back that spooked investors worried about the government controlling even more of the company while it diluted shares of minority holders, to the government keeping a lid on fuel prices that capped profits, Petrobras is the class state run entity. It doesn’t exist to make shareholders profits. It exists for the commonwealth (Forbes).

PORTS & LOGISTICS

Australian industrial property developer Goodman Group wants to enter the Brazilian market to tap strong demand for high-quality warehouses, and will likely make an announcement on such a move later this year (Reuters).

Brazilian soy and corn exporters are seeking help from the local courts to guarantee clearance documents from striking inspection agents at the country’s main ports, the grain exporters association Anec said (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional & Culture News

In Brazil on August 10, 2012 at 10:23 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Impacto Empresarial business tower for Vitoria, Espirito Santo state (Skyscrapercity).

BRAZIL WEEKLY’S BRAZIL’S NEXT 10 HOTTEST BUSINESS CITIES

No doubt the biggest and most important business centres of Brazil are the megacities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and do not forget most other state capitals like Belo Horizonte, Salvador da Bahia, Recife, Fortaleza, Curitiba and Porto Alegre.  But Brazil is big and there are plenty of other fast developing cities, not being state capitals. So for a minute forget Sao Paulo, Rio and those other 2014 World Cup host cities and check out Brazil Weekly’s Brazil’s Next 10 Hottest Business Cities.

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CULTURE

As Brazil celebrates the centenary of his birth, Amado is remembered as one of the country’s most important, and best-loved writers, famous not only at home but internationally. His vivid portrayal of his fellow countrymen and women struck a chord, and he created characters who captured the popular imagination. Translated into 49 languages and published in 55 countries, his books reflect Brazil’s culture, inequalities and contradictions (BBC).

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FIFA WORLD CUP 2014

Brazil has begun approximately 60.7% of the 12bn reais (US$5.89bn) in urban transportation projects planned as part of preparations to host the 2014 World Cup. Investments totaling 7.28bn reais are underway, according to the federal government’s latest World Cup progress report (BN Americas).

TRAVEL & TOURISM

Hotels profitability rose to a record in Brazil last year as rates jumped 17 percent, underscoring the need for tourism infrastructure investment amid growing inflow of visitors, a report by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s hotel consultancy unit and Brazil’s Hotel Operators Forum show (Bloomberg).

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AMAZON

A federal judge in Brazil has ordered iron-ore giant Vale to suspend work on part of a $4.1 billion logistics plan which is considered crucial to the company’s goal to increase output at its main production site. Work on doubling the Carajas railway, which connects the company’s single largest iron-ore mine to the Ponta de Madeira seaport in the state of Maranhao, was halted after local human rights groups pointed to procedural shortcomings in the environmental licensing process (Reuters).

It was the job of Ibama, Brazil’s widely respected federal environmental agency, to police the Amazon as best it could. But last year, President Dilma Rousseff authorized a change that ceded much responsibility for environmental oversight to local officials. Of 168 Ibama field offices operating a few years ago, 91 have been shuttered (Reuters).

MATO GROSSO

A federal court has banned the construction of a planned light-rail system in Cuiaba, a World Cup host city in Brazil. The federal prosecutor’s office in Mato Grosso state said on its website that investigators found “irregularities in the choice of the system and in the viability of the project” (Washington Post).

The city of Cuiabá in the Midwestern state of Mato Grosso had been engaged in a years-long tug-of-war over whether it should accommodate the crowds with a bus rapid transit system or a light rail system (Atlantic Cities).

RIO

With residents of several favela communities in Rio de Janeiro facing resettlement and others having already been removed from their homes to make way for 2016 Olympic infrastructure development, the longstanding community of Vila Autódromo is pushing back with their Plano Popular da Vila Autódromo (The Rio Times).

Starbucks first opened their doors for business in Brazil back in December 2006 starting off in São Paulo and since expanding to several cities across the country. The latest venture has been in Rio de Janeiro, with the arrival of Starbucks in Ipanema on Rua Visconde de Piraja (The Rio Times).

Construction is underway on Ponte Estaiada do Fundão, a Cable-Styled bridge that will span 400m across Guanabara Bay between Ilha do Fundão and Ilha do Governador in Zona Norte (North Zone). Leaving the existing access for passenger cars, the new bridge will be exclusively for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses as part of the Transcarioca corridor (The Rio Times).

Part of what makes Rio de Janeiro such a beautiful city is its exquisite location between the mountains and the ocean, but while the beach fronts have been widely explored, the same is not true for the views from the hills. Alto Leblon is an exception to the rule, a neighborhood lodged on the side of the mountain Morro Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers’ Hill), Alto Leblon combines nature, views and the perks of Leblon (The Rio Times).

SAO PAULO

Europe’s largest hotel group, Accor, and Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht have partnered to build three hotels in Sao Paulo state, eyeing growth in South America’s biggest city and Brazil’s burgeoning oil industry. The partnership will open one hotel in the city of Sao Paulo and two in coastal Santos, a hub for Brazil’s offshore oil boom, in 2015 and early 2016 (Reuters).

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