News from Brazil

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on February 24, 2012 at 10:48 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff said the government will implement fiscal and credit access measures to stimulate production and exports with the purpose of gaining competitiveness in a global context of crisis (MercoPress).

The Supreme Court ruled the Ficha Limpa, (or “Clean Record”) anti-corruption law to be constitutional, announcing that it would be enforced for the upcoming municipal elections in October. The law – which prohibits politicians with criminal convictions or a record of political charges – from taking office for eight years, first came out in 2010 (The Rio Times).

The government expects to have economized between R$75 million and R$100 million by reducing electricity consumption 4.5% to 5% during the  daylight savings time period (“horário de verão”) this year in the regions it was in effect: South, Southeast, Central-West and the state of Bahia (Agencia Brasil).

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INTERNATIONAL

Officials from top emerging market countries will discuss fledgling plans to set up a multilateral bank to fund projects in developing nations during upcoming Group of 20 meetings, a senior Brazilian government official said (Reuters).

Brazil wants to increase the amount of locally made parts in cars built by its auto industry, one of the main reasons it is seeking to end a free-trade agreement with Mexico (Reuters).

A Brazilian buying spree takes place in New York that shows no sign of slowing. The city is already teeming with Brazilian tourists, and many of them, flush with cash from a booming economy back home, are snapping up their own pieces of Manhattan. While Russians like Dmitry Rybolovlev, the buyer of an $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West, boast in press releases about their trophy properties, Brazilians have quietly become steady clients for higher-end brokers in New York and Miami (The New York Times).

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil is moving toward implementing plans to develop its defense industry market in Latin America and the Caribbean. An exponential increase in Brazilian aviation and defense industries was predicted by experts as the government began investing billions of dollars on reviving factories that had been neglected in the first decade of transition to civilian rule from military dictatorship (UPI).

The Brazilian army has received digital intercoms from Thales in the Netherlands for use on armored personnel carriers. Thales supplied the SOTAS systems through its Brazilian subsidiary Omnisys (Outcome Magazine).

Cape Verde plans to set up partnerships with countries such as Portugal and Brazil to acquire fixed wing aircraft to patrol and inspect Cape Verde’s territorial waters (Atlantico Weekly).

The strikes by police and firefighters that have affected Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, have now reached the capital Brasília, and organizers are speaking out around the country (The Rio Times).

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Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on February 24, 2012 at 10:47 am

ECONOMY

Slow profit growth is prompting Brazilian commodities companies to slash capital spending plans, making growth in Latin America’s largest economy even more dependent on consumer spending (Reuters).

Brazil’s currency fell for the first day in three after the central bank offered to sell reverse currency swaps to stem its rally (Reuters).

But later the real headed for a four- month high after a report that showed German business confidence climbed more than forecast spurred optimism about global growth and bolstered demand for higher-yielding assets (Bloomberg).

Brazil in January posted its biggest-ever monthly current account deficit as the country’s recovering economy stoked imports, while the more uncertain outlook abroad dented demand for its exports. The current account deficit widened to $7.086 billion last month, the central bank said. Analysts had expected a deficit of $6.95 billion, from $6.04 billion in December, according to the median forecast of 10 analysts in a Reuters survey.

Commerce businesses trimmed a net 36,345 positions in January, while the government services sector cut its payrolls by 370 jobs. In contrast, a net 37,462 manufacturing workers were hired, and mining companies added 82,506 positions in the month (Reuters).

Brazil’s Finance Ministry denied a report that the government is considering a tax on foreign direct investment to stem the appreciation of the real. Veja magazine reported in this week’s edition that the government is studying the implementation of a tax on all capital inflows as a means of curbing currency gains (Bloomberg).

It’s probably not the biggest risk Brazil faces, but it is worth noting that the one true magnet that’s attracting all of that foreign capital flowing into Brazil is due to just one company: oil and gas rich Petrobras. Brazil’s foreign investments, in fact, are rather dependent on it. Without Petrobras and its massive deep ocean oil discoveries off the coast of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states, international inflows into Brazil would look tame. Very tame, in fact (Forbes).

Brazil’s Economic Indicators dating February 23, 2012, can be found here.

BUSINESS

Believe or not in the new corporate mantra: Innovate or Die, here is a list of companies you must have on your radar. The top 10 most Innovative Companies in Brazil (Forbes).

Entrepreneurial activity is on the rise in Brazil and spreading into new industries. Just a few years ago entrepreneurial activity was largely focused on software. Now companies are popping up in health care, manufacturing and digital signage. Innovation in several investment sectors, such as financial services, holds the promise of becoming world class (PEHUB).

The Business Software Alliance, which represents U.S. industry heavyweights such as Microsoft Corp, said Brazil finished last in its survey of 24 countries, earning only 35.1 points out a possible 100 because of its policies in areas such free trade, security, data privacy and cybercrime (Reuters).

Japanese trading company Mitsui & Co bought Brazil’s Veloce Logistica SA for 4.7 billion yen ($58.5 million) to expand into the South American country’s auto parts distribution business (Reuters).

A study commissioned by Japan’s Kirin, before its acquisition of Schincariol, shows an expected growth of nearly 50% in the premium beer market over the next four years (Folha).

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AGRI ETC

International foods processor Bunge Ltd plans to invest an additional 1 billion reais ($584 million) in Brazil with a possible focus on palm oil production, the company’s chief executive of agribusiness in Brazil, Pedro Parente, said (Reuters).

AVIATION

Gol Linhas Aéreas , Brazil’s second-largest airline, expects a higher profit margin this year as stronger ticket pricing overshadows the impact of lower travel demand and high fuel costs (Reuters).

The first 76-seat Embraer 170 passenger plane that Estonian Air leased from Finnair landed in Tallinn Airport (Baltic Course).

BANKING & FINANCE

Brazil’s central bank said it is opening public hearings on its plan to raise capital requirements for banks by 2017 to strengthen the financial system during periods of tight credit. In its implementation of the so-called Basel III rules intended to make financial systems more robust in the face of liquidity shocks, the Brazilian central bank plans to raise banks’ capital requirements from the present 11 percent to 13 percent in 2017 (Reuters).

US based Venture capital firm Atomico went off the beaten path for its first investment in Brazil, and not just in terms of geography (The New York Times).

In recent years, the Brazilian government has used a bitter antidote to ease an inflation rate that has been for many years a burden to the country: high interest rates. With nominal interest rates estimated at 10.5 percent for 2012, Brazil is now the world champion in real interest rates. Such high interest rates in Brazil can be a trap for the assets of borrowers who fail to organize their finances (The Rio Times).

Brazilian banks have increased their reserves by 21% to the equivalent of 67.3 billion dollars fearing a possible moratorium while consumers are facing growing problems to address payments, according to the Sunday edition of Correio Braziliense (MercoPress).

BIOFUELS

It’s a bittersweet moment for Brazil’s energy industry. With a steady stream of petroleum discoveries promising to make Brazil one of the world’s largest oil producers, the country is turning more to oil and gas as biofuels begin to languish. Brazil, one of the world’s ethanol-producing pioneers, began making the sugar-based fuel during the energy crisis of the 1970s as a cheaper alternative to gas. The country continued investing in the sector over the next three decades, making Brazil the number two ethanol producer in the world. Moreover, in 2003 Brazil introduced flex-fuel vehicles, which run on a blend of gasoline and ethanol, giving ethanol producers even more opportunities at the pump. But the tides have changed (As-coa).

Five Brazilians are on the list of the world’s 100 most influential people in bioenergy for 2011 – 2012, prepared by Biofuels Digest, one of the most prominent international newsletters covering renewable energy. Three of the five Brazilians ranked are in the top 25, including the President of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), Marcos Jank, who ranked 24th (UNICA).

INFRA

After selling concessions for the expansion and operation of three major airports and a highway earlier in 2012, Brazil is preparing a plan to sell 10-year highway maintenance contracts without tolls, so-called shadow-toll concessions (Reuters).

Brazil’s government, struggling to move ahead with a new bullet train linking its two biggest cities, will now shoulder most of the risk in the project it hopes will draw Canada’s Bombardier into the bidding. A new auction may take place in November, after two delays and one failed attempt last July in which no bidders showed up (Reuters).

Cosan, Brazil’s biggest sugar and ethanol group, agreed to pay more than double the market price for 5.7 percent of America Latina Logistica (ALL), a railway serving agricultural areas of Brazil and Argentina (Reuters).

Voestalpine AG (VOE), Austria’s biggest steelmaker, plans to build two plants for rail-track switches in Brazil this year to gain as the country prepares to host the soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games. The plants will be located in Sao Paulo and in Sao Luis and are being built together with local partners (Bloomberg).

Senator Jorge Viana (PT-AC) asked the government for more investments in railway transport. According to the senator, Brazil needs to consolidate as a priority the construction of the Intercontinental Railway. Known as EF 354, the railway will start in the northern coast of Rio de Janeiro state and will be outstretched for 4.4 thousand kilometers, up to Acre, in the Brazil-Peru borderline (Federal Senate).

OIL & GAS

Petrobras said it declared the Bauna and Piracaba offshore oil fields in the Santos basin commercially viable, the final step before including them in reserves and initiating full output (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional News

In Brazil on February 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of Box298 commercial building for Vila Madalena, Sao Paulo, designed by Idea!Zarvos.

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FIFA WORLD CUP

Former Brazilian star Bebeto has been selected as a member of Brazil’s World Cup national organizing committee (AFP).

AMAZON

Brazilian port authorities are planning a new grains port in the Amazon region, a terminal designed to become the country’s largest soybean export center and to slash transportation costs for farmers. The proposed 18 million-tonne-a-year Port of Outeiro would be built near Belem, the largest city in Brazil’s Amazon region. It is designed to surpass the 16.8 million tonnes grains capacity of the Port of Santos, and the 14.8 million tonnes capacity of the Port of Paranagua (Reuters).

In recent years, Brazil has been at the frontline of a battle to curb deforestation, but in the 1980s it saw the land as fertile for development. The reversal in policy has angered some of the early pioneers who turned forest into farmland (BBC).

The worst rains in over five years have caused the Acre River to rise to its second highest level in history resulting in severe damage in the state of Acre. The Acre River is at 17.41 meters, putting it over three meters above its flooding level (the highest level ever was in 1997 when it reached 17.66 meters). The flooding has now had a negative impact on over 60,000 people, leaving at least 7,000 homeless (Agencia Brasil).

BRASILIA

Brasília might host the Global Water Forum in 2018. The city’s candidacy to the event was supported by the chairman of the Committee on Environment, Consumer Defense, Auditing and Control, senator Rodrigo Rollemberg (PSB-DF), during a debate at the committee, about the forum’s 6th edition, to be held in March, in France (Federal Senate).

People in Rio and São Paulo, along with thousands of tourists from all over the world, cannot be blamed for not knowing anything about carnival in Brasilia. It does sort of pale in comparison to what happens in the country’s twos largest cities. Brasilia’s carnival does have a unique moment: it is always kicked off by the marching band known as “Pacotão” (Agencia Brasil).

NORTHEAST

Northeast Brazil has its own distinct Carnaval. Traditions stretching back to the 1600s are on display as the poorer region emerges from the shadows of such dominant cities as Rio and Sao Paulo (LA Times).

RIO

An oil-led economic boom, hosting of the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and a plunge in violent crime are making Rio de Janeiro, called Cidade Maravilhosa, feel like the “Marvellous City” for the first time in decades (Reuters).

Luiz Carlos Prestes Filho, superintendent of the Department of Economic Development in the state of Rio de Janeiro, estimates that this year’s festival, which ended this week, attracted 850,000 visitors to the state and contributed $628 million to its economy — a 12 percent increase over last year. Brazil’s government puts the tourism income for the whole country at $3.2 billion (Bloomberg).

Federal Police arrested eleven people including an ex-commander of the Police Pacification Unit (UPP), accused of involvement in drug trafficking in Morro de São Carlos, a favela in Estácio, Zona Norte (North Zone). According to the Federal Police (PF), ex-commander captain Adjaldo Luiz Piedade, is accused of receiving approximately R$15,000 each week for a period of about six months (The Rio Times).

In a competition that was as spectacularly contested as ever, Zona Norte (North Zone) samba school, Unidos da Tijuca, has been named the winner of Rio’s Carnival of 2012 with 299.9 points. Pulling itself up from a close second to Beija-Flor in last year’s competition, Tijuca’s homage to Luiz Gonzaga – one of Brazil’s most important and inventive popular musicians from the last century – won the hearts and minds of this year’s judges (The Rio Times).

For decades, restaurants and bars spread seemingly unchecked into street-side space, forming an important part of Rio’s cityscape and a vital revenue stream for their owners. But it now looks like the local Prefeitura has decided to enforce strict licensing laws surrounding the application for external seating zones (The Rio Times).

The head of security and the chief commercial officer for the 2016 Rio Olympic committee have both quit. Security director Luiz Fernando Correa stepped down because of an investigation into fraud allegations by the public prosecutor’s office. Chief commercial officer Flavio Pestana left for undisclosed personal reasons. Chief executive officer Leonardo Gryner will temporarily take over Pestana’s duties until a replacement is hired (Washington Post).

Scientists in Brazil announced Tuesday they’ve discovered rock engravings that could be up to 12,000 years old, meaning people may have settled the Americas up to 4,000 years earlier than previously thought (US News).

SAO PAULO

Criolo, aka Kleber Gomes, the megastar of the megacities, lends voice to millions struggling in the favela and beyond (The Guardian).

Street art’s star has risen and risen in São Paulo, to the point that it has even become, for some art lovers and collectors, a reason for visiting the city at all. Art galleries like Choque Cultural and Galeria Concreto have made a speciality of the genre, and no trip to São Paulo would be complete without a stroll through the brightly coloured gallery-in-the-wild that is Vila Madalena’s Beco do Batman alleyway. But street-art’s thoroughly paulistano sub-genre, pichação – a style of graffiti tagging that’s unique to São Paulo – is more polemical (Time Out Sao Paulo).

The São Paulo sambadrome became a war zone during the vote counting of the 2012 Carnival. There was violence, bedlam and even a float was burned. Five people were arrested (Folha).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on February 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

POLITICS

A year into her term, Ms Rousseff’s administration is firmer in its principles, more technocratic, more personally loyal, and far more female than was Lula’s. It remains to be seen whether those changes will make her more able than Lula was to push through the structural reforms Brazil needs (The Economist).

President Dilma Rousseff plans to freeze 55 billion reais ($32 billion) in budget spending in 2012, officials said, as part of an annual fiscal exercise designed to limit inflation and signal the government’s commitment to austerity. Most investors anticipated a freeze of roughly 50 billion reais. The total government budget in Brazil this year is expected to be about 1.5 trillion reais (Reuters).

Brazil’s education system will be critical in improving the country’s stark inequalities, and last week it was announced that 600,000 tablet computers would be handed out to public school teachers at over 62,000 schools, in an attempt by the Ministry of Education to show new technologies are the way to speed up improvements (The Rio Times).

A Brazilian newspaper editor who campaigned against corruption in Mato Grosso do Sul state has been shot dead, police say. Paulo Rodrigues was killed by gunmen riding a motorcycle in the city of Ponta Pora, near the Paraguayan border (BBC).

The Brazilian Executive Public Ethics Committee will investigate alleged corruption claims involving Development, Industry and Foreign Trade minister Fernando Pimentel. Jose Paulo Sepulveda Pertence said the investigation will focus on media reports that exposed Pimentel activities as business consultant for private companies in 2009 and 2010 (MercoPress).

Recently inaugurated Minister for Women policies Eleonora Menicucci has raised eyebrows in chauvinistic Brazil after having publicly admitted to two abortions and bi-sexual experiences (MercoPress).

The Brazilian government wants to increase from four to six months the amount of paid maternity leave companies are obliged to give new mothers, the country’s minister for women’s policy said (Latin American Herald).

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INTERNATIONAL

The Senate’s Committee on External Relations and National Defense approved the creation of an external temporary committee to cope with the crisis involving Brazilian rural producers rooted in Paraguay, also called Brasiguayos and the Paraguayan landless, known as carperos (Federal Senate).

Brazil has asked China to allow more of its manufactured goods in to the Chinese market as it seeks to tap into the country’s growing economy. The call comes as Brazil’s trade surplus with China has been rising, hitting $11.5bn (£7bn) last year. Brazil has also asked China to reduce its exports amid concerns that the influx of low-cost Chinese goods was hurting its manufacturing sector (BBC).

American politicians aren’t the only ones worried about China trade.  Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer said that the country’s business leaders were getting increasingly wary about competition from China (Forbes).

Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota and his visiting German counterpart Guido Westerwelle called for signing a free trade agreement between the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur (MercoPress).

After more than three decades, the United States has allowed its import tariff on sugarcane ethanol to expire, giving American consumers access to one of the best environmentally performing biofuels available at commercial scale. The Brazilian sugarcane industry hopes that decision will encourage the European Union to follow suit, in order to develop free markets for clean, sustainable and renewable fuels (UNICA).

Brazil’s trade with the Arab world increased more than 28 per cent to $25.13 billion (Dh92.9 billion) last year and is expected to grow by up to 15 per cent this year, according to the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (Gulf News).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil is “very likely” to choose France’s Rafale fighter jet to refurbish its air force, government sources say, a decision that would award one of the emerging-market world’s most coveted defense contracts to a jet whose future was in doubt only two weeks ago (Reuters).

Swedish defense group Saab AB said the company has got no indication that Brazil has reached a decision on what fighter jets to opt for to rearm its air force (WSJ).

Defense Minister Celso Amorim said the need for a strong defense industrial base is part of a strategy of deterrence to ensure peace in the South Atlantic. In a speech at the opening of 2nd National Defense Seminar, held in the auditorium Nereus Ramos House of Representatives, the Minister Celso Amorim has identified a process of devolution of power worldwide and the creation of “a belt of good-will between Brazil and its neighbors in South America.” The minister said the country should extend this belt to Africa, in the spirit proposed by the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic (Defpro).

Peru is considering buying ten Super Tucano light attack aircraft from Brazil’s Embraer as it works with Brazil to bolster surveillance along their jungle border, Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim said (Reuters).

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SOCIAL

Facebook’s popularity in Brazil has exploded over the past year, and the company may have its biggest competitor, Google’s Orkut, to thank for it (Reuters).

But Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine, is opening an office in São Paulo. The initial objective is to get to know the Brazilian and Latin American market in order to design a strategy for the region. “The idea is to compete directly with Google,” Wesley Barbosa, 25, the person from Alagoas newly hired for the position of business manager for Latin America, told Folha. Currently in Beijing, he will be moving to São Paulo in three months (Folha).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on February 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

ECONOMY

Economic activity in Brazil rose 0.57 percent in December from November, the second increase in a row, adding evidence of a rebound after interest rate cuts and tax incentives (Reuters).

Finance Minister Guido Mantega said Brazil’s GDP grew three percent in 2011, rejecting the Central Bank’s estimate of 2.79 percent (Xinhua).

Growth will pick up speed in the second half of the year and reach an annualized pace of more than 5 percent, due to government stimulus measures, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said (Bloomberg).

In December, the volume of retail trade sales in the country increased by 0.3% in comparison with that of the previous month, in the seasonally-adjusted series. Nominal revenue recorded the same percent change. As a result, the sector completed a period of four months with positive rates for volume of sales and 38 months in a row for nominal revenue. The other indexes, without seasonal adjustment, registered increase of 6.7% in volume of sales over December 2010 and the same figure accumulated in the year. Nominal revenue had rates of 10.1% over December 2010 and of 11.5% in the year (IBGE).

Finance Minister Guido Mantega denied a report the government is considering raising taxes on floating-rate debt investments, saying that no tax increases of any kind are planned at this time (Reuters).

BUSINESS

Merck & Co plans to form a joint venture with two Brazilian pharmaceutical companies to sell medicines in Brazil, the U.S. drugmaker said (Reuters).

German truck maker MAN SE said profitability will take a hit this year from the impact of new emissions standards in Brazil which could push down demand in this key market by an estimated 15 percent in the first half (Reuters).

General Mills Inc agreed to buy Brazilian food company Yoki for 2 billion reais ($1.16 billion), in a move marking its return to Latin America’s largest consumer market (Reuters).

In a globalized world like the one of nowadays, it is hard to control the economic interaction between countries and even all the barriers to imports are not enough to control a phenomenon called parallel imports (The Brazil Business).

AGRI ETC

The U.S. health regulator declined a request by orange juice producers to allow a higher tolerance of a banned fungicide in juice imports, a decision that will force Brazil to stop exporting concentrated orange juice to the United States (Reuters).

AUTOMOTIVE

Brazil in March will ease a tax increase charged on imported cars for automakers investing to build local assembly plants. The surcharge of as much as 30 percent was implemented last month, amid protests from Chinese automakers, to stem a surge of imported cars. Companies that may benefit include Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Co from China and Germany’s Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, both of which have announced plans to invest in Brazil (Bloomberg).

The BNDES has approved financing of R$ 307.4 million for automaker Hyundai Motor Brasil to set up an industrial plant in the city of Piracicaba (state of São Paulo) to manufacture passenger vehicles (BNDES).

AVIATION

Gol Airlines pulled its new perpetual non-callable three senior unsecured note (bond), something many in the market expected. The bond had a minimum size of US$100m, with initial price guidance of 11.50%, “a big, sexy yield,” said a senior DCM banker in London, but not enticing enough to make it past the finish line (Reuters).

TAM, Brazil’s largest airline, cut its travel demand estimate for this year and will further lower the size of its fleet, signaling that an economic slowdown will hamper revenue (Reuters).

Embraer, the world’s third-largest commercial planemaker, booked an order for 10 regional planes from Brazilian airline Azul through the exercise of options, as the carrier grows its network of lower-traffic routes (Reuters).

Brazil’s Senate Commission on Infrastructure Services said it will invite aviation authorities to explain the bidding process for the Guarulhos, Viracopos and Brasilia airports. Senator Francisco Dornelles said he considered it “important that it is explained to the commission how it will be possible to reach the quality of service desired with the resources that will be left after the payment to the government” (Bloomberg).

Brazil is considering new rules for the next round of airport auctions because President Dilma Rousseff has concerns about the winners of last week’s bidding. The government is worried that some of the companies that won the rights to manage the Viracopos, Guarulhos and Brasilia airports don’t have enough experience in the business (Bloomberg).

A Brazilian airliner safely made a forced landing after a passenger had a “psychotic attack,” entered the cockpit and assaulted a pilot, crew members and passengers who tried to subdue him, witnesses said (NDTV).

BANKING & FINANCE

Credit availability for large Brazilian companies was “moderately restrictive” in the final three months of last year and will remain so in the first quarter, said Carlos Hamilton, the central bank’s director of economic policy, citing a survey of 22 financial institutions (Bloomberg).

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MINING & STEEL

Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer, said it is selling 80 percent of its ore using spot prices, nearly completing a historic shift to market-based pricing for the principal raw material used in steel. The new system was prompted by Chinese steelmakers, Vale’s largest client group, who wanted to benefit more quickly from falling iron ore prices (Reuters).

Switzerland is demanding that Vale SA, the world’s No.2 iron-ore producer, pays five years in back taxes, Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger’s website reported (Reuters).

Billionaire Eike Batista, whose investments range from iron ore to coal, said he’s in talks with sovereign wealth funds and other potential “strategic partners” to sell a stake in his AUX gold unit (Bloomberg).

Steelmaker Gerdau has an “extensive list” of potential partners for a plan to spin off a mining unit that has about 2.9 billion tonnes of iron ore reserves, Chief Executive André Gerdau Johannpeter said (Reuters).

OIL & GAS

Brazil’s consumption of gasoline rose 19 percent in 2011 to 35.5 billion liters, the National Petroleum Agency said, because of soaring vehicle sales and a spike in the price of ethanol. Overall, Brazil’s consumption of fuels rose by 3 percent last year to 121.5 billion liters, the agency said, including a 5.2 percent increase in diesel to 51.8 billion liters (Reuters).

Petrobras’ new chief executive, Maria das Gracas Foster, said her concern is to increase oil and gas output but she did not plan to expand the investment budget for Brazil’s state-run oil company (Reuters).

Graca Foster was appointed Petrobras new CEO last Monday. The self-made woman, nicknamed “the Iron Lady of Oil” by Brazilian press,  grew up in a favela in Rio de Janeiro and started working when she was 8 years old as a rag-picker. Maria das Gracas Foster becomes the first woman to head the Brazilian oil giant, the largest company in South America. Who is she (Forbes)?

Petrobras said it reduced output from the offshore P-43 production platform after it leaked about 30 barrels of oil into the sea. It’s the latest in a series of small spills in one of the world’s most promising new oil frontiers that have elicited fines ranging from tens of million to several billions of dollars and even criminal indictments against some oil company executives (Reuters).

Petrobras also cut its 2012 target for additional oil output by 30 percent, citing delays in building a ship. The company said it would add 336,000 barrels of new oil output a day in Brazil this year, down from its previous estimate of 480,000 (Reuters).

Brazil’s state development bank BNDES has approved the first two loans as part of a 4 billion reais ($2.3 billion) program to finance oil equipment and service providers at a time when the country plans to more than double oil production by 2020 (Bloomberg).

Sete Brasil Participacoes SA, an oil-rig provider owned by Petrobras, banks and pension funds, will spend $27 billion by 2020 on drilling units (Bloomberg).

PORTS & LOGISTICS

About a quarter of Brazil’s shipments of soy and corn to world markets were disrupted after a dry bulk carrier collided with and damaged a major grain terminal at Santos Port (Reuters).

China’s Dalian Port said it was seeking more cooperation with Brazil’s Vale, appearing to reach out to the world’s largest iron ore producer after Beijing banned its giant ships from docking in China last month (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional News

In Brazil on February 17, 2012 at 11:48 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the 163 metres tall Matarazzo tower for Sao Paulo, to be built on one the last availiable plots on Avenida Paulista (Skyscrapercity).

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DESIGN

Five architecture firms are shaping the look of the country of the future. Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal.

FIFA WORLD CUP

Brazil football chief Ricardo Teixeira will step down as president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) after 23 years in charge. The controversial FIFA executive, who is also in charge of Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup, is embroiled in corruption allegations (Daily Mail).

TRAVEL

There’s a lot to see in a country with 4,600 miles of coastline and nearly half the landmass of South America. But whether you’re into art, urbanity or the outdoors, you’ll find something to love in this destination trifecta. Three tips from the Wall Street Journal.

AMAZON

Amazon defenders face death or exile. Brazilian activists who inform on illegal loggers laying waste to the rainforests can expect a visit from the gunmen (The Guardian).

BAHIA

Current and former police officers may have committed up to 30 murders during the recently ended police strike in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, law enforcement officials there said (Boston.com).

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RIO

Two weeks of police protests in Brazil that led to a bloody crime wave, disrupted preparations for upcoming carnival celebrations, and raised concerns about security ahead of the 2014 soccer World Cup ended when thousands of state police in Rio de Janeiro went back to work (Reuters).

Between 2010 and 2020 Rio de Janeiro will need to invest some R$15.8 billion (US$9.15 billion) in both public investment and private funding to modernize and expand its transport network, develop favelas and underground gas supply lines. That is the conclusion of a host of experts interviewed by O Globo newspaper after a series of incidents highlighted the city’s struggling infrastructure (The Rio Times).

With 2012 Carnival just days away, Rio is awash with tourists, arriving to experience what is widely deemed the greatest street party on earth. The city is full of adventuring travelers skimming their guidebooks and scratching their heads, but among the ubiquitous sound of English, French and German, is the increasing patter of Brazilian Portuguese (The Rio Times).

The Cidade Maravilhosa offers some of the best options in luxury living for those with the means, among them the sweeping penthouse views of the city. This Carnival, more jet-setters are seeking the best Rio has to offer and instead of settling for hotel accommodations, are looking to local agencies to provide them with the best penthouses in the most up-market areas in town (The Rio Times).

There are many ways to enjoy the infamous Carnival blocos of Rio, and experienced revelers have been kind enough to offer inside tips for the rookies, experiencing Carnival in the in Cidade Maravilhosa for the first time. From drinking to going to pre-parties, the veterans agree that vitality and comfort are two of the most important ingredients for an enjoyable bloco (The Rio Times).

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SOUTH

If you are looking for a way to dodge the chaos of Carnival in Rio, then Florianópolis, capital of Santa Catarina state, might just provide the escapism you need. The stunning, 33-mile-long (53km) island on which the city sits – the Ilha de Santa Catarina – offers over hundred beaches, culture, good food and nearly 300 years of history, the gem in Southern Brazil’s crown (The Rio Times).

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Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on February 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm

POLITICS

Civil servants won eight years of wage increases above inflation under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. They now believe Rousseff has become a “hostage” of the global financial crisis during her first year in office, denying raises to keep spending down, said Pedro Armengol, public sector coordinator of CUT, Brazil’s biggest labor confederation (Business Week).

Guido Mantega, the Brazilian Finance Minister, reportedly dismissed Luiz Felipe Denucci Martins, the Head of Casa da Moeda do Brasil (the Brazilian Mint), following accusations that Denucci was receiving bribes and depositing them in off-shore bank accounts. According to Folha de São Paulo, Mantega was informed in August 2011 that Denucci had begun to open offshore accounts in tax havens (The Rio Times).

The Brazilian government announced that Women Policies Minister Iriny Lopes is stepping down from her position to run in municipal elections this year. Lopes will run for mayor of Vitoria, the capital of Espirito Santo state, in the southeastern region (Xinhua).

The Brazilian government has filed a lawsuit against Twitter, demanding that the firm remove accounts in the country that warn citizens of police speed traps and roadblocks (BBC).

A piece of news in a Brazilian website caused a wave of reactions and expectations when it declared sources close to the medical team treating former Brazilian President Lula da Silva for a throat cancer said he is free of the disease (MercoPress).

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INTERNATIONAL

Tensions have reached boiling point in a landownership dispute between landless Paraguayans and Brazilian-born farmers, known locally as “Brasiguayos”, who operate farmland in the agricultural community of Ñacunday in the Alto Paraná department of eastern Paraguay. Those seeking the “foreign” farmers’ eviction believe the land is being illegally occupied and should be redistributed to locals (The Rio Times).

Vice Premier Wang Qishan left Beijing to co-host a bilateral high-level meeting, according to a press release from the Foreign Ministry. Wang and Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer will co-host the second meeting of the China-Brazil High-level Coordination and Cooperation Committee, the ministry said (Xinhua).

Rio+20 shows little sign of living up to original Earth summit. As Brazil prepares for the Rio+20 conference, there is little on the agenda to suggest any substantive action will be taken (The Guardian).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

In a somewhat unusual move, India agreed during Amorim’s trip to share with Brazil some of its experiences of carrying out the open tender evaluation to select the best aircraft. This matters greatly to Brazil, as it is currently involved in a similar selection process. Brazil would like to buy 36 fighter jets, and Rafale, F-18 and Gripen-NG are still in the race (Post Western World).

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SOCIAL

The number of foreign workers in Brazil grew 57% last year, reaching 1.51 million in December, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice (Folha).

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Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on February 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

ECONOMY

Brazil’s government is considering a budget freeze of up to 50 billion reais ($29 billion) this year, two government sources told Reuters, an amount some analysts say is not enough to meet debt-reduction goals and bring inflation down.

BUSINESS

Brasil Travel Turismo e Participacoes SA canceled an initial public offering, citing “unfavorable” market conditions, as the operator of the country’s stock exchange says dozens of other companies are waiting for sentiment to improve to go public (Bloomberg).

AVIATION

The winning bid for the privatisation of Guarulhos, São Paulo’s main international airport, at 16.2 billion reais ($9.4 billion), was nearly 4 billion reais more than the second-highest bid, and 12.8 billion reais above the government-specified minimum. The high price raises several questions (The Economist).

Some of the world’s biggest airport operators came away empty-handed after Brazil auctioned licenses to run three of its busiest hubs. With the concessions fetching five times the minimum bid, their caution may have been wise (Bloomberg).

Embraer, the world’s third-largest planemaker, expects a modest increase in revenue this year thanks to the expansion of its defense unit, as regional-jet and executive aviation markets remain stable (Reuters).

Brazil’s aircraft manufacturer Embraer has delivered a Legacy 650 to celebrity Jackie Chan for the Chinese market. The aircraft is painted with a dragon logo (MercoPress).

American Airlines is renegotiating terms of $1.6 billion in debt owed to Brazil’s state development bank to help it emerge more rapidly from bankruptcy in the United States (Reuters).

Brazil’s busiest airport on Wednesday opened a new terminal meant to handle as many as 5 million domestic passengers a year. Infraero, the government agency that operates airports, said on its website that the 85 million real($49.4 million) terminal in Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos international airport will handle domestic flights, which account for more than 60 percent of the passengers using the airport (Business Week).

BANKING & FINANCE

BTG Pactual, the Brazilian securities firm owned by billionaire financier Andre Esteves, is buying Chilean rival Celfin Capital for about $600 million as it seeks to win more investment banking and capital market advisory business in South America (Reuters).

BTG Pactual also plans to create an investment fund of at least 3 billion reais ($1.75 billion) to tap infrastructure development in Latin America’s biggest economy (Bloomberg).

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s biggest lender by market value, may hire 20 to 30 executives in Brazil as it expands in South America’s biggest economy (Bloomberg).

ENERGY

Brazil may have almost 17,700 megawatts of wind power in operation in 2020, more than 10 percent of the country’s anticipated total installed capacity, according to an executive with India’s Suzlon Energy Ltd. (Bloomberg).

Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona SA, an Argentinean wind-turbine maker, plans to build a 200 million-real wind-turbine plant in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s plans to build four new nuclear power plants have been delayed by about 18 months following last year’s accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, an official of Brazilian state-owned nuclear power company Eletronuclear said (MarketWatch).

HIGH SPEED

Six groups have shown interest in bidding to operate Brazil’s high-speed train, which will be auctioned in October, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, citing Transport Minister Paulo Passos and Bernardo Figueiredo, director general at the country’s land transportation agency, known as ANTT (Bloomberg).

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OIL & GAS

Petrobras will pay $76.3 billion over 15 years to lease 26 deepwater oil drilling rigs from Brazil’s Sete Brasil and Cyprus’s Ocean Rig , the largest contract in the company’s history, an executive involved in the deal told Reuters.

Petrobras said it made its first petroleum discovery in an offshore subsalt area that the state-controlled oil giant is exploring under a $70 billion oil-for-stock swap deal inked in 2010 (Reuters).

Maria das Gracas Silva Foster has worked for Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras almost all her career. And now, after 32 years, she is set to take over the running of a company that is crucial to Brazil’s economic development (BBC).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional News

In Brazil on February 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Opera Thaetre of Campinas (Skyscrapercity).

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FIFA WORLD CUP

Workers building and renovating Brazil’s stadiums for the 2014 World Cup are threatening to go on strike if employers don’t agree to their demands for unified salaries and benefits (The Republic).

AMAZON

The rhythm of deforestation in Brazil slowed significantly in 2008 and 2009 in the regions known as Atlantic Rainforest (“Mata Atlântica”), Pantanal and Pampas, according to a report released by the Ministry of Environment (Agencia Brasil).

It depends how one defines “good” news. Last week Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras announced that it had struck good-quality light oil in its Amazonas state’s Solimoes Basin SOL-T-171 concession block, which it owns 100 percent (Huffington Post).

SALVADOR

Hundreds of striking police officers agreed to leave a state assembly house they had occupied for 10 days in Salvador, easing tensions in a walkout that unleashed a bloody crime wave and cast doubt on upcoming carnival celebrations across the country (Reuters).

RIO

Police went on strike in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, risking a surge in crime just days before the beach city’s famed carnival celebrations (Reuters).

After the collapse of three buildings in downtown Rio de Janeiro in late January left at least seventeen people dead, new concerns about the condition of high-rise residential and office blocks are being raised. Now questions are being asked of CREA (the Regional Council of Engineering and Architecture), the institution whose responsibility it is to ensure those who own building comply with legal requirements (The Rio Times).

Prior to the pacification of Vidigal in November 2011, a visit to the favela was usually only made by adventure travelers, or those who had friends to escort them. The idea of a foreigner owning real estate and starting a business in the area was reserved only for a special group of forward-thinking entrepreneurs, those who saw the potential of a hillside that enjoyed one of the most stunning views in Rio (The Rio Times).

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DEEP SOUTH

Every two years, the city of Caxias do Sul, 120 km south from Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, prepares itself for the Festa da Uva (Grape Festival). This year, from February 16th to March 4th, one million people are expected to be involved in the event, that happens to overlap with Carnival (The Rio Times).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on February 3, 2012 at 10:55 am

POLITICS

The Brazilian minister in charge of transport projects has resigned amid allegations of corruption. Minister of Cities Mario Negromonte is the seventh minister in President Dilma Rousseff’s cabinet to step down amid corruption charges. Mr Negromonte has been accused of awarding public work contracts to companies which financed his party, allegations he denies (BBC).

Brazil faces two simultaneous challenges: how to deal with recent illegal immigration, mostly from Haiti, and how to make it easier for highly educated immigrants to get work permits. A number of Brazilian ministries have either proposed or are deliberating policies as the country ushers in a new era of immigration (CNN).

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INTERNATIONAL

President Dilma Rousseff met with Fidel Castro, the revolutionary hero of her youth, and held talks with his younger brother, President Raul Castro (Reuters).

Rousseff is making her first official visit to Cuba with the emphasis on fostering business ties. Communist-run Cuba, under US trade sanctions for 50 years, has seen some economic reforms under Raul Castro (BBC).

Brazil is easing Cuba into the free market economy with a generous package of aid in cash and kind and joint projects that give the Latin American country a pre-eminent position in Havana’s heady mix of communism and experimental capitalism (UPI).

Rousseff said that her country acted properly in granting an entry visa to Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, but that it’s an internal matter for Cuba as to whether Sanchez is allowed to leave the island (Washington Post).

Dilma Rousseff pushed back against criticisms of Cuba’s human rights record that have intruded on her first state visit to the communist island, saying a U.S. detention camp for suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay is also a concern (Miami Herald).

It is a symbol of peace around the world, but the statue of Christ the Redeemer which stands high above Rio de Janeiro is causing an unholy rumpus in one of London’s most fashionable neighbourhoods ahead of this summer’s Olympics (Reuters).

India, South Africa and Brazil have expressed disappointment over the impasse in the WTO Doha talks for a global trade deal and called for the need for resisting protectionism in the current economic situation (Xinhua).

The Brazilian government expressed concerns over the new Argentine trade barriers going in effect and informed that it would “evaluate its impact and legality” before making any decisions, Foreign Trade secretary Tatiana Prazeres announced (MercoPress).

Brazil’s trade with the Arab world soared more than 28% in 2011 to reach 25.13 billion dollars and is expected to grow a further 15%t this year, the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce said (MercoPress).

Brazil reiterated its support for Argentina’s Malvinas Islands sovereignty claim and insisted that solving the controversy with the UK is ‘most important’ for South America’s stability. It also pointed out that it’s not correct to talk about “a blockade” (MercoPress).

Brazil may end a decade-old automotive trade pact with Mexico and start charging tariffs on cars imported from that country as it battles a growing trade deficit in the sector. The 2002 agreement for the import and export of cars and parts with Mexico “is being reviewed,” said trade secretary Tatiana Prazeres (Washington Post).

The accord, implemented in 2002, allows vehicles and car parts manufactured in Brazil and Mexico to enter each country without paying tariffs. But according to Brazil’s Valor Economico newspaper, Brazilian imports of Mexican cars increased 40 per cent last year to US$2bn, leaving the South American country with a trade deficit in that sector of more than US$1.6bn. Hence the decision to review the agreement (FT Beyond Brics).

Brazil is offering 6,000 visas to Haitians over a five-year period as one of several efforts that look to help the troubled Caribbean nation get on its feet, President Dilma Rousseff said (Washington Post).

The upcoming Rio summit on sustainable development must yield a new model to tackle the planet’s economic, environmental and ethical crises, according to Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira.The so-called Rio+20 gathering “is a an exceptional opportunity in a world in which people are searching for new ideas and new processes… to implement a new development paradigm,” she said in an interview with AFP.

DEFENSE & SECURITY

French Defence minister Gerard Longuet said that following on the deal to sell 126 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to India, Paris is hopeful it can seal a similar contract with Brazil (MercoPress).

Embraer Defense and Security signed last January 27 an agreement to acquire 30% of the shares representing the capital of AIRHOLDING, SGPS, S.A., from the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS). The AIRHOLDING, SGPS, S.A. is a consortium formed in 2005 by Embraer and EADS, incorporated in Portugal with the specific purpose of holding a 65% stake in OGMA. With this new agreement, Embraer takes full control over AIRHOLDING stake, while the Portuguese government holds the remaining 35% share through EMPORDEF – Portuguese Defense Company (Embraer).

The Brazilian Navy’s Tupi-class (Type 209/1400) submarine, Tapajo (S 33), is nearing completion of a BRL72.3 million (USD40 million) modernisation programme that included an overhaul of all its main systems. A Brazilian Navy spokesman told Jane’s that the submarine was relaunched in late January at Arsenal de Marina do Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ) and that the upgrade would be completed in May (Jane’s).

Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim, arrives next Saturday (04/02) in New Delhi, the capital of India, for a series of meetings with officials and visits to military installations in the Asian country. The trip aims to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation between the two countries (Defpro).

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SOCIAL

Churrascarias, rodizios, and kilos are only three of the more common popular dining experiences a person can enjoy in Brazil. As with all dining in the country, visits to these establishments are both a lesson in culture as well as geography (The Rio Times).

Brazil has leapfrogged Japan to become the second most-represented country on Twitter, according to a study from social media research company Semiocast. The U.S. is still the top country on Twitter in terms of number of users with 107.7 million accounts. But Brazil now comes in at number two with 33.3 million, followed by Japan with 29.9 million (PC).

Tall and tan and young and … chunky? The Girl From Ipanema has put on a few pounds, and for many sunbathers on Brazil’s beaches the country’s iconic itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikini just doesn’t suffice anymore. A growing number of bikini manufacturers have woken up to Brazil’s thickening waistline and are reaching out to the ever-expanding ranks of heavy women with new plus-size lines (Huffington Post).