Doing Business in Brazil

Brazil is a major exporter of many of the world’s most sought after commodities which has, for example, seen its trade flows with the emerging super-economy that is China explode over the past decade or so.  Couple this fact with the enormous surge in commodity prices over the same period and it’s an easy assumption to make that Brazil is in a very good place at the moment.  Indeed, Brazil weathered the economic storms of 2008 pretty well and didn’t really dip in the manner of many other advanced industrial countries.  The oft used phrase which Brazilians use when things are going well in the country; ‘God is a Brazilian’ has probably been much in use of late.

In addition to this Brazil is fast becoming the South American economic super-power – hardly surprising given its mineral wealth, massive population (and therefore domestic market) and geographic location.  (The only countries that Brazil does not share a border with in South America are Chile and Ecuador and it is the fifth largest country by landmass in the world).

However, look below the surface of these facts and things may not be as positive as they might at first appear.  The Brazilian currency the real has remained stubbornly expensive over many years and the impact of this can be seen in the cost of living that hits the visitor between then eyes as soon as they book a hotel room or buy themselves a meal.  The disparity of income levels between the urban rich of Brazil and the rural poor continues to widen and this inequality risks destabilizing the fragile political peace which followed decades of turmoil and military intervention.  Add to these problems the never-ending struggles against corruption and it is probably true to say that Brazil is poised between a very bright future and the danger of slipping back into some old, familiar problems.

This combustible mixture of positive signs and potential pitfalls mean that it imperative that those looking to do business in Brazil or with Brazilians, really need to do some careful preparation and one of the key elements of that preparation should be to look carefully at the business culture of the people you are likely to meet.  In Brazil they do things the Brazilian way and the business culture and etiquette you will meet there are as distinct and unique as those you might find in Germany or India.

This Brazil country profile is designed as a starting point to help you begin to wrestle with the way things are done in Brazil – but it is only a starting point.  When you have read this country profile, why not invest in one of the books suggested in the reading list or, better still, talk to Global Business Culture at  Global Business Culture are world leaders in the field of the impact of cultural differences on international business performance and have assisted a large number of companies who are working with or wish to work with Brazil.