News from Brazil

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on August 26, 2011 at 10:40 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff, who is of Bulgarian origin, is the world’s third most powerful woman, according to Forbes (Novinite).

President Rousseff is demonstrating a desire to end a level of institutionalized corruption inherited from a long and often embarrassing past. A recent wave of corruption scandals and ministerial resignations has motivated Rousseff to take a stand against corruption, and the impunity that for years has characterized Brazilian governments. Her actions are dubbed “faxina: the cleanup (The Rio Times).

A Brazilian minister accused his own party of trying to destroy him and said he might not have enough support to continue in his job, raising the odds of yet another high-level departure from President Dilma Rousseff’s beleaguered government (MercoPress).

Another Brazilian minister, and particularly close to President Dilma Rousseff has been targeted by Epoca magazine. According to the report Communications minister Paulo Bernardo has been using the private jet of a major public contractor of the Brazilian government (MercoPress).

But Dilma Rousseff has told allies that she will not force out any more officials from her government, in an apparent attempt to put an end to a political crisis (Reuters).

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INTERNATIONAL

In 2009, China overtook the US as Brazil’s largest trading partner. The United States had been Brazil’s main trading partner for about 80 years but a surge in Chinese demand for Brazilian agricultural and mineral commodities, such as soybeans and iron ore , dislodged the Americans. Brazil is so dependent on China that some traders even describe Brazil as a “derivative” of China. Derivatives are contracts whose prices depend on the value of another asset. This expression shows to what extent the performance of Brazilian market is linked to China (Forbes).

As one of the world’s emerging economic powerhouses, Brazil is vigourously pursuing one of the key economic objectives on the U.N.’s development agenda: South-South Cooperation. The Brazilian Cooperation Agency is currently participating in scores of economic projects, mostly in the agricultural sector, in over 80 developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean (IPS News).

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

The technology transfer which the United States promised to Brazil if it choses Super Hornet aircraft to re-equip the Armed Forces, will be the same applied to countries like England, Canada and Australia, countries which are closely related to Washington. The promise was made by the president of Boeing Military Aircraft, Christopher Chadwick, during a public hearing held by the Committee on External Relations and National Defense (Federal Senate).

Which plane should it be according to you?

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, urged the Brazilian authorities to take immediate action to provide judges, magistrates, prosecutors, public defenders and lawyers with effective and adequate measures of protection (MercoPress).

Brazil’s military regime opened a file on soccer great Pele in 1970. Veronica Cristo, a spokeswoman for the Sao Paulo State Public Archives, says the thin file with Pele’s name on it was opened by police after a man gave him a document calling for the release of political prisoners (Washington Post).

A crack cocaine epidemic sweeps Brazil from the Amazon to Rio. At street level the consequences of addiction are dramatic: murder, robbery and destruction of families (The Guardian).

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Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on August 26, 2011 at 10:36 am

ECONOMY

Growth in Brazil and other emerging nations may slow down because of worsening economic conditions in the United States and Europe, Brazil’s finance minister said. Guido Mantega told a Senate committee that the government is still forecasting growth of 4.5 percent this year. But this figure could drop to 4 percent he added (Washington Post).

But Brazil’s government is internally forecasting that the country’s economy will grow by 3.7 percent this year, below the 4 percent figure provided this week by Finance Minister Guido Mantega (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest level this year, undercutting bets that policy makers will reduce borrowing costs. Yields on interest rate futures jumped (Bloomberg).

Brazil can’t allow an invasion of “hot money” and must deter speculation in the currency derivatives market, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s soaring real currency is reducing the ability of local manufacturers to compete and causing Latin America’s largest economy to edge closer toward an economic phenomenon known as “Dutch disease,” according to the chief financial officer of state-run energy giant Petrobras (Fox business news).

BUSINESS

The federal government has announced that it will expand its National Program of Oriented Productive Microcredit (PNMPO).  With the expansion, the program will be renamed “Growing – National Microcredit Program,” and will include new conditions for financing, including lower interest rates and lending targets for public banks.  The program will retain its main feature: extending credit opportunities for individual entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises with a turnover of up to R$ 120,000 annually (Portal Brasil).

Recently, president Dilma Roussef announced the plan Brasil Maior, a protectionist program that aims to avoid the deindustrialization of the country. Among other measures, the program aims to decrease the import of foreign workforce (The Brazil Business).

Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s second- largest automaker, is in talks with billionaire Eike Batista for a possible partnership in Brazil as it seeks to quadruple its car output capacity in the Latin American country (Bloomberg).

AGRI ETC

The Brazilian sugar-energy industry needs a new cycle of investments in order to meet growing demand for ethanol, both domestic and global. The conclusion came from the Washington Representative of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), Leticia Phillips, during a presentation at the Southeast Bioenergy Conference (Unica).

Last month the Labor Public Ministry (MPT), released its biannual ‘Lista Suja,’ or ‘Dirty List,’ naming and shaming companies that have been found to be exploiting workers. There were 48 new names added to the list, bringing the total to 251. The majority of the new entrants, sixteen, were based in the Central-West region of Brazil (The Rio Times).

Biofuels are an alternative energy source that can drive local development by generating jobs, know-how and technology. But they can also cause social damage, as locals fear in the case of industrial-scale exploitation of babassu palm trees, which grow abundantly in the wild in central and northern Brazil (IPS News).

AVIATION

Embraer is expanding operations in China, one of the fastest growing aviation markets where the company is already active delivering orders secured earlier (UPI).

Brazil auctioned rights to the first major airport to be operated by a private company as the country moves to pick up the pace of investment in its air travel infrastructure ahead of the 2014 World Soccer Cup. A Brazilian-Argentine consortium called Infra-America competed against three other groups to win the concession to build and operate new airport terminals near the northeastern Brazilian city of Natal. The consortium has three years to build the Sao Goncalo do Amarante airport. It will then hold rights to operate it for 25 years (Nasdaq).

TAM said it would begin offering a daily roundtrip flight between Sao Paulo and Mexico City starting Oct. 30 in an effort to expand its international service (LAHT).

Delta delayed talks with Embraer and rival Bombardier Inc. as it prepares to buy 100 Boeing Co. 737s (Bloomberg).

BANKING & FINANCE

Plural Capital, a Brazilian securities firm formed by former UBS AG and Banco Pactual bankers, agreed to purchase Banco Modal as part of a plan to expand into asset management and other lucrative financial services (Reuters).

Loan defaults in Brazil rose in July to their highest level in 17 months, a new indication that higher borrowing costs and an economic slowdown is hampering the credit-worthiness of consumers and companies (Reuters).

BTG Pactual, Brazil’s largest independent securities firm, and Chilean rival Celfin Capital are in talks to combine their businesses in a deal that could create Latin America’s largest independent investment bank (Reuters).

State-run Banco do Brasil will launch its offer to buy more shares in Argentina’s Banco Patagonia starting on Sept. 1, the Brazilian bank told the Buenos Aires stock exchange (Reuters).

MINING & STEEL

Investment in Brazil’s mining sector is forecast to grow to a record $68.5 billion in the 2011-2015 period, the national mining institute, Ibram, has forecast.  Reuters presents a list of the 10 largest investments planned for the sector, including construction of new mines, expansion of existing projects, and investments in processing and logistics, according to Ibram.

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OIL & GAS

When Brazil discovered huge offshore crude reserves four years ago,  Petrobras sketched out plans to become a regional fuel exporter. That plan has since been turned upside down. Rapid domestic economic growth and rising fossil fuels use has turned it into a recurrent fuels importer, with occasional gasoline purchases in 2010 evolving into regular imports that may not cease until the end of the decade (Reuters).

PORTS & LOGISTICS

Pecém is being developed as an industrial and energy hub on an area of 330 square km adjacent to the port on the Atlantic coast, created in 2002 some 60 km from Fortaleza, the capital of the state of Ceará.  Companies are flocking to set up factories here. A score of service, energy, and cement industries, including manufacturers of wind turbines, have already made their bases at the Industrial and Port Complex of Pecém (CIPP), which is administered by the Ceará state government (IPS News).

Vale said it has created a new logistics company for cargo transport, but it denied media reports it is planning to sell stock in the unit in a spin-off (Reuters).

As many as 64 ships are waiting to load sugar at Brazil’s ports in the Center South, the country’s main producing region, eight more than a week earlier, according to Williams Servicos Maritimos Ltda (Bloomberg).

Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA, the Brazilian steelmaker aiming to quadruple its iron-ore production, stands to gain the most from an auction for a $1 billion port terminal to be built in Rio de Janeiro state. The state government will take bids later this year for a lease on the so-called Area do Meio (Bloomberg).

Rio de Janeiro state denied a request from Petrobras to build a port in Sepetiba bay to support the oil company’s deep-water drilling in the area, O Estado de S.Paulo reported, citing state Energy Secretary Julio Bueno (Bloomberg).

POWER

President and CEO of Brazil’s Energy Research Company (EPE), Mauricio Tolmasquim, announced that for the first time ever in Brazil, wind power prices are less expensive than natural gas prices.  This announcement follows the results of energy auctions held last week by Brazil’s National Electric Power Agency (Aneel) (Portal Brasil).

The Brazilian northeastern state of Ceara created a fund to buy solar power in a bid to lower the cost and attract solar equipment makers to the region (Bloomberg).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on August 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the new home of the Sao Paulo Companhia de Danca, next to the Nova Luz redevelopment area and Luz Station, Sao Paulo (source).

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MEDIA

The “Diputadómetro,” an online ranking run by the Federation of Business Associations in Santa Catarina (Facisc in Portuguese ) evaluating the jobs of state legislators in Santa Catarina in southern Brazil, did not last more than a day. The online ranking was so controversial that it was suspended after legislators voiced their complaints, calling the site “unfair” (Knightcentre).

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TRAVEL

Eating out in Brazil has improved massively over the last thirty years, and these days in major cities you can find restaurants specializing in everything from traditional Brazilian dishes to contemporary fusions of Arabic and Asian cuisine. Off the beaten track, however, you are still more likely to get the meat-rice-and-beans staple, or a “kilo” buffet where you pay for what you eat, so many pousadas catering to international tourists have gone the route of providing a high-class dining experience either as part of the package or an optional extra (The Rio Times).

Brazil’s hotels are likely to set a record for growth in demand this year, spurring international chains to double their market share in South America’s largest country within a decade, Jones Lange LaSalle Hotels said (Bloomberg).

BHG S.A., Brazil Hospitality Group, announced the acquisition and administration of 5 new hotels in Belém, totaling 7 properties in the state capital of Pará (BHG).

WORLD CUP 2014

Brazil’s government plans to lift a ban on sales of alcoholic beverages at soccer games during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, after receiving a request from the sport’s governing body (Bloomberg).

AMAZON & WILDLIFE

Google Street View is to expand into the deepest depths of the Amazon in an attempt to raise awareness over global sustainability. Using riverboats and specially designed off-road tricycles, the company has begun to photograph the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers of northwest Brazil (BBC).

The Amazon has a twin river that flows 4.000 metres below the ground. Brazilian scientists say they have found signs of a huge underground river flowing far beneath the Amazon River (MercoPress).

A new monkey species has been discovered in the Amazon. The discovery of a new type of titi monkey was made in the Mato Grosso region of Brazil (The Guardian).

RIO OR SAO PAULO

For many years, São Paulo has been the place for multinationals to open a Brazil office. It may be less glamorous than Rio, as the two cities’ nicknames suggest: Rio is Cidade Maravilhosa (the Marvellous City); São Paulo is Cidade da Garoa (the City of Drizzle). But the choice is harder than it used to be (The Economist). And what do you think?

RIO

Cities across the globe are using mega events like the World Cup and Olympics to catalyze urban development and social and economic change. Being a host city is a way in which cities can express their personality, enhance their status, and advertise their position on the global stage, hence the increasing number and value of bids. Brazil and Rio de Janeiro’s successful bids and subsequent planning for these events is drawing heavy anticipation of success, as well as focus on the long-term outlook after the games have gone (The Rio Times).

As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Games two years later, attention is not only on the progress of its stadiums but how well authorities are tackling high levels of crime. In Rio de Janeiro, a policy of police occupation of the city’s slums, or favelas, aimed at expelling the heavily armed drug traffickers who previously dominated them, is changing the face of the city (BBC).

Anyone who has made the transition from ‘temporado’ to resident by signing a long-term rental lease in Brazil knows that finding the right apartment is just the first step in settling into a new home. Perhaps the biggest roadblock for foreigners, beyond negotiating an affordable apartment in Rio’s sky-high real estate market is an additional line item on the budget called the ‘seguro fiança’ – or insurance deposit (The Rio Times).

The murder of a Brazilian judge by the mafia that runs illegal public transport in a Rio suburb draws attention to the links between death squads, the police, and providers of bootleg services in the city (Insight Crime).

SAO PAULO

Coming up: Anima Mundi, Festival of Winter in Campos Do Jordão, Nossa Senhora Achiropita, São Paulo Restaurant Week (Time Out Sao Paulo).

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Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on August 19, 2011 at 10:20 am

POLITICS

Dilma tries to drain the swamp. As another minister goes, Brazil’s president may find that the price of trying to clean up politics involves forgoing reforms the country needs (The Economist).

This time Brazil’s agriculture minister, Wagner Rossi, resigned amid accusations of influence peddling leveled in the news media. Mr. Rossi is the fourth official to fall — and the third to step down because of corruption accusations — since President Dilma Rousseff took office just eight months ago (The New York Times).

President Dilma Rousseff named lawmaker Mendes Ribeiro as new Minister of Agriculture. The member of Congress from the farming state of Rio Grande do Sul replaces Wagner Rossi (Mercopress).

One of the smallest parties from the Brazilian ruling coalition has stepped down with “no hard feelings” and will now adopt a ‘critical support’ attitude towards the administration of President Dilma Rousseff (Mercopress).

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INTERNATIONAL

The U.S. doesn’t have much to fear from Brazil in an ideological sense, and indeed leftist diplomats within Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are regarded as outmoded and anachronistic relics of the past. Nevertheless, Brazil is a rising player in the region and U.S. diplomats are keenly aware of this fact. For the time being, Brazil and the United States maintain a cordial, if not exactly stellar diplomatic relationship. As Venezuela fades and Washington struggles to maintain its crumbling hegemony in the wider region, however, Brazil and the U.S. will inevitably develop rivalries. An “undeclared contest” with Brazil for political influence in Peru is long under way however (Huffington Post).

China, the second-largest buyer of soy in the world wants an end to intermediation by US multinational companies working in the sector and plans to invest purchasing directly from farmers in Mato Grosso and another five states in Brazil. Chinese investments are expected in factories for crushing of oil-producing beans, docks for ships, infrastructure, logistics, silos and acquisition of agricultural land (Mercopress).

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

Representatives of Saab and the government of Sweden defended the choice of Gripen Next Generation (NG) fighters, along with the promise of full technology transfer, as Brazil’s best option to reequip the Brazilian Air Force, during a hearing at the Committee on External Relations and National Defense. Representatives from the United States and France, which also offered planes to Brazil, are going to be heard by the Committee in the following weeks (Federal Senate).

Boeing Co. promised a full transfer of technology to Brazil if the US-based company wins a 9 billion dollars fighter-jet bid. The president of Boeing Military Aircraft told the Brazilian Senate defense committee that Brazil would be able to fully produce the F-18 Super Hornet if it purchases the planes from Boeing (MercoPress).

The Brazilian Air Force dropped eight 500-pound bombs on a clandestine airstrip in the jungle near the Colombian and Venezuelan borders, part of wide military operation that goes beyond targeting drug traffickers (CNN).

HEALTH

A key concept in Dr Pitanguy’s vision of plastic surgery’s healing potential: self-esteem.  A prolific writer, Pitanguy says he takes a “humanistic” approach to medicine. Most of his 800-plus publications  are technical but some cite thinkers, such as Michel Foucault and Claude Lévi-Strauss, rarely found in medical works. With its wide-ranging reflections, this oeuvre has earned Pitanguy a place in Brazil’s prestigious academy of letters. It also outlines a radical therapeutic justification for cosmetic surgery.  He argues that the real object of healing is not the body, but the mind.  A plastic surgeon is a “psychologist with a scalpel in his hand” (The New York Times).

GRINGO

A gold rush mind-set is in full swing, with foreign work permits surging 144 percent in the past five years and Americans leading the pack of educated professionals putting down stakes. Businessmen have long been drawn to Brazil, along with get-rich-quick confidence men, dreamers of Amazonian grandeur. But now schools catering to American and other English-speaking families have long waiting lists, apartments can cost $10,000 a month in coveted parts of Rio and many of the newcomers hold Ivy League degrees or job experience at the pillars of the global economy. Once in Brazil, they find a country facing a very different challenge than do the United States and Europe (The New York Times).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on August 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

ECONOMY

Brazil’s long boom appears to be over. After several dynamic years that saw it earn a reputation among some Western investors as “the near China,” Brazil now looks to be downshifting into a pattern of economic growth of around 3 percent to 4 percent for the foreseeable future (Reuters).

Following are a selection of the promising and the not-so-promising parts of Latin America’s largest economy at Reuters.

Brazil’s Federal program of tax incentives for micro and small businesses, Simples Nacional or Super Simples, is close to raising its threshold to increases the number of participants. The plans were launched last week by President Dilma Rousseff and are expected to be passed quickly through congress. The Super Simples system involves monthly tax and social security payments being collected through a single document thus reducing bureaucracy in order to simplify the process for businesses, hence the name (The Rio Times).

Former Brazilian president Lula da Silva blasted the developed countries lack of political initiative to face the economic crisis and suggested they adopt a strategy similar to Brazil’s (Mercopress).

According to experts, Brazil’s disproportionately high logistics costs, which are estimated to be as much as twenty percent of the country’s GDP (twice as high as in OECD countries) represent a significant threat to Brazil’s continued economic development (The Rio Times).

The BNDES registered net income of R$ 5.3 billion in the first half of 2011. This is equivalent to an increase of 47.8% compared to that in the first half of 2010, which totaled R$ 3.6 billion. This is the highest income earned by the institution in the first half of any year (BNDES).

Economists have been revising down their forecasts for Brazilian economic growth this year amid both a weaker global economy and local factors such as inflation, labour market and government expenditure (Mercopress).

R&I Japan agency last week upgraded Brazil’s credit rating from BBB- to BBB, the second notch in investment grade level, with stable outlook (Mercopress).

BUSINESS

A racket that allowed nearly 300 Brazilian firms to evade 1 billion reais ($625 million) in taxes was dismantled. “Operation Alchemy” involved arrests, searches and asset seizures in 18 of Brazil’s 27 states, Federal Police said (Latin American Herald Tribune).

Import licenses are a primordial step when planning on importing to Brazil and as they are issued through Siscomex, The Brazil Business decided to write an article about this instrument (The Brazil Business).

Chery Automobile Co., China’s biggest auto exporter, may see “insignificant” profit margins for the next decade in Brazil, where the company is attempting to triple market share by 2015, said Luis Curi, the chief executive officer for the Brazilian unit (Bloomberg).

SN Power, a hydropower project developer majority-owned by the Norwegian utility Statkraft AS, bought 41 percent of Desenvix SA for $440 million to expand its Brazilian operations (Bloomberg).

AGRI ETC

Petrobras Biocombustível and Grupo São Martinho, through Nova Fronteira, announces an investment plan worth US$520.7 million aimed at expanding the milling capacity of the Boa Vista plant to 8 million tons of sugarcane from the 2014/2015 season. The unit is located in the municipality of Quirinópolis in Goiás  (BW).

The agricultural and industrial phases of sugar and ethanol production in a Brazilian sugarcane processing mill were closely watched by the Business Director of the Brazilian Export Promotion Agency – Apex Brasil, Rogerio Bellini and the Executive Manager of the Brazilian Business Affairs (BBA) office, Rui Faria Cunha (pictured). BBA is a joint office between Apex-Brasil and the Brazilian National Confederation of Industry (CNI), set up to follow European regulations and trends that could affect Brazilian exports, as well as represent and support Brazilian industry in the European Union. “Anyone wishing to learn more about the sugarcane industry in Brazil will quickly conclude that ethanol is sustainably produced and does not cause deforestation in the Amazon,” said Cunha (Unica).

Bunge will invest $2.5 billion to boost its sugar and bioenergy capacity in Brazil through 2016, the company said. The investments will go into eight of the group’s mills and will expand crushing capacity by 50 percent from present levels to 30 million tonnes a year of cane (Reuters).

The Mozambique government is providing large tracts of land at a symbolic price to Brazilian farmers to produce soy, maize and cotton, Mozambique’s agriculture minister, José Pacheco told Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo (Mercopress).

AVIATION

Chilean airline LAN’s takeover of Brazil’s TAM Linhas Aereas could be complete by the end of this year, chief operating officer Ignacio Cueto said (Reuters).

INFRA

Can Brazil build the massive infrastructure it needs to host the Olympics and the World Cup? Andrew Zimbalist looks thoroughly at Brazil’s long To-Do List (Americas Quarterly).

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IT

The Brazilian IT market has gone from strength to strength in the last few years. The sector is forecast to grow more than 10% in 2011, with revenues exceeding $182bn by year-end, up from $165.5bn generated in 2010, according to IT trade body Brasscom. However, does Brazil have enough people to cater for current and future demand? In the second part of the IT’s Brazil series, IT Decisions provides a summary on the shortage of skilled IT professionals in Brazil.

Brazil registered the sale of 3.86 million computers in the second quarter of 2011, according to the Brazil Quarterly PC Tracker study, released by consulting company IDC Brazil (Xinhua).

OIL & GAS

Will Petrobras become the world’s largest company? Petrobras reported record-breaking and better-than-expected net profit of $ 6.86 billion in the second quarter of this year, an increase of 31.9% over the same period in 2010.  In the same comparison, EBITDA rose by 4%, to $ 20.25 billion, and net income grew 12% to $73 billion (Forbes).

OSX Brasil SA, the Brazilian oil services company controlled by billionaire Eike Batista, expects to add 14 more floating production vessels to its fleet as Batista’s company develops South American oilfields (Bloomberg).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on August 19, 2011 at 10:18 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Aspicuelta Building will be built in Vila Madalena, an alternative and bohemian district in São Paulo’s West Side. For years, bars, restaurants, stores and art galleries have set up in the region, occupying and transforming properties amidst the low-rise and simple housing that still prevails, and drawing a young and modern public to the area (more on Openbuildings).

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CINEMA

In the global cinema series, Phil Hoad looks at how Brazilian films such as José Padilha’s Elite Squad series sold gritty social commentary to Hollywood (The Guardian).

AMAZON

A tough-minded law has boosted Brazil’s environmental record in recent years by helping to drive the rate of destruction in the Amazon rainforest to historic lows. But a backlash in the hinterlands is threatening to weaken the country’s forest code and push deforestation rates back up again (Nature).

BORDER CITIES

The evident stagnation of Brazilian border cities, in contrast with the dynamism of twin cities in neighboring countries, was pointed out as an example of the government disregard for the border regions by senators who took part at a public hearing promoted by the Permanent Sub-committee on the Amazon and the Border Strip (Federal Senate).

RIO

The Brazilian Magistrates Association (AMB) asked Justice Minister Cardozo to create a special task force to solve the murder of Judge Patrícia Acioli (47 years). She was assassinated last week outside her home in Niterói, the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, shot 21 times in her car by gunmen wearing Ninja masks (The Rio Times).

Sao Goncalo gangs may have been planning her assasination since 2009, according to newspaper reports (Insight Crime).

One of the great Art Deco references in Latin America, with more than 300 buildings in this style of construction, the city of Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 11th World Congress on Art Deco, between August 14th and 21st. The biennial meeting brings together international researchers, national and foreign professionals including architects, interior designers, professors of art history and designers (Rio Official Guide).

On August 20th the ‘Bus Rapid System,’ a fast bus line on a special corridor also known as BRS, will be inaugurated in Leblon and Ipanema. In the lead-up to the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, Rio de Janeiro is working hard to upgrade its infrastructure. One of the most important programs effecting many commuters is through the BRS system, as buses are the most common public transportation in the city (The Rio Times).

The nearly 2,000 workers renovating Maracana Stadium for the 2014 World Cup went on strike Thursday, citing unsafe conditions and demanding better pay and health care (Washington Post).

Carnivorous Cariocas are known for their love of carne-filled feijoadas, sizzling churrascos, and meat on a stick. Yet according to a 2011 survey by the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics, nine percent of the Brazilian population identified themselves as vegetarian. The growing number of meat free diets, up four percent from a survey done seven years prior, accompanies an array of vegetarian restaurants that have popped up around Rio (The Rio Times).

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SAO PAULO

The owners of Spanish fashion chain Zara say they are strengthening the oversight of their production system after workers were found toiling in a Brazilian sweatshop. A raid in Sao Paulo found mostly Bolivian immigrants working for a pittance in unsafe conditions (BBC).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on August 12, 2011 at 10:42 am

POLITICS

Brazilian police have arrested more than 30 tourism officials and business leaders, including Deputy Tourism Minister Frederico Silva da Costa. They are accused of conspiring to divert public money for private gain, charges they deny. Mr Costa is the third high-ranking official caught up in corruption allegations since President Dilma Rousseff took office in January. Prosecutors also seized a number of computers at the agriculture ministry, and Agriculture Minister Wagner Rossi has been asked to appear before an ethics commission. Mr Rossi is a member of the Democratic Movement Party of Brazil (PMDB), President Rousseff’s largest ally in Congress (BBC).

Brazil’s revolution isn’t leading to a welfare state, heads the Guardian. The country’s problems with inequality remain entrenched – and the new consumerism brings its own problems (The Guardian).

President Dilma Rousseff has suffered the first major fall in her popularity, a a poll showed, as she battles a rash of corruption scandals and a slowing economy. Rousseff’s approval rating dropped 6 percentage points to 67 percent, while the number of those who disapproved more than doubled to 25 percent, a survey by the Ibope polling firm showed (Reuters).

President Dilma Rousseff warned rebellious congressional allies not to pass new spending bills, telling them that tight budget control is the best way to ensure that Brazil’s economy avoids further damage from the global crisis (Reuters).

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INTERNATIONAL

They are the biggest and third-biggest countries by population in Latin America. They share a border of almost 2,000km (1,250 miles). But Colombia and Brazil get along badly. In 2009 mistrust burst into the open, when Brazil’s then president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, grumbled in public about an agreement negotiated by Colombia’s Álvaro Uribe to update the terms under which American forces could use seven military bases for joint action against drug-trafficking and guerrillas. Now there is a concerted effort to improve ties (The Economist).

Carta Internacional, Março de 2010 compares Brazil’s and India’s strategy to obtain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and the implications this has for both countries’ identities. On the one hand, Brazil and India align with developing nations and jointly press for more inclusive global governance. On the other hand, critics have pointed out that Brazil’s attempt to enter the UN Security Council as a permanent member is not entirely about democratizing the UN, but rather about creating an “expanded oligarchy”. This article seeks to better understand the nature of this dilemma, comparing how both countries deal with this transition. Download the paper here.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization recently elected as its next leader Jose Graziano da Silva of Brazil, a former Brazilian food security minister and one of the creators of the nation’s “Zero Hunger” social programs that include Bolsa Familia. He has said eradicating hunger is his first priority for the FAO, which is the U.N.’s biggest specialized agency, with a $1 billion budget. While that is dwarfed by the budget of Brazil’s Bolsa Familia alone, the FAO plans to spread the knowledge of how to create such programs to governments around the globe (Washington Post).

On a trade mission to Brazil this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly engaged in some undiplomatic behavior. Folha reported that Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff asked official speeches and toasts to take place after a lunch with Harper Monday. Harper, however, reportedly had a different idea. He wanted the speeches to happen before lunch, and Folha says he locked himself in the private bathroom of the foreign affairs minister until he got his way (Washington Post).

Stephen Harper took his robust foreign-policy agenda to Brazil, another sign Canada is looking beyond the U.S. to ensure its continued prosperity. “Brazil is a priority market for Canada,” declares the federal government’s website, asserting that Brazil and Canada have a great deal in common (Vancouver Sun).

Did Harper clash with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as she rejects pressure to scale back capital controls aimed at checking a rally in her country’s currency? (Bloomberg)

Representatives from Brazil and Iran met this week and agreed to enhance relations between the two countries, a signal that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will follow the example of her predecessor and demonstrate Brazil’s diplomatic independence by dealing with a nation under scrutiny for its nuclear program (CNN).

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil’s new Defense Minister Celso Amorim had a first meeting with the commanders of the armed forces. It was the first encounter between Amorim and the military command after President Dilma Rousseff had asked him to replace Nelson Jobim. “He’s very much a nationalist, so the military will agree with that,” said David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasília to members of the foreign press in São Paulo. According to Fleischer, Amorim is viewed as a patriot whose wants to see a globally powerful Brazil, sentiments that play well with military leaders (The Rio Times).

Amorim is best known for improving ties among developing nations, tightening relations with Latin American countries and helping organize the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Foreign Policy magazine has called Amorim the “world’s best foreign minister” (Defense News).

Celso Amorim said he plans closer links with Unasur (Union of South American Nations) and Africa to ensure the South Atlantic turns into a peace zone free of weapons of mass destruction (Mercopress).

A Brazilian retired general and former commander of UN forces in Haiti warned the new Defence minister Celso Amorim to avoid giving the Armed Forces command a ‘left-wing ideological imprint’ (MercoPress).

Celso Amorim is considering a withdrawal of peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Amorim, the former Foreign Minister made two visits to Haiti and believes that the Brazilian mission comes to an end with the strengthening of democracy and economic growth (Defend Haiti).

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SOCIAL

Brazilian police have arrested seven people and seized more than 2,600 animals in a crackdown on the illegal trafficking of wild animals. A news release from the federal environmental agency says the suspects operated a website to sell animals captured in the wild or bred illegally (Washington Post).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on August 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

ECONOMY

Is Latin America’s recovery threatened? “This is the second time crisis affects the world, and for the second time Brazil isn’t trembling,” declared Dilma Rousseff, its president. “We are in a much stronger position to confront this crisis than we were at the beginning of 2009 and the end of 2008.” The Economist analyses if this is true.

Reinaldo Goncalves, economics professor at Rio de Janeiro Federal University, said Brazil could be hit hard in case of a new global crisis, mainly because of the country’s heavy dependence on external financing and current account deficit (MercoPress).

Brazil, as in 2008, will boost domestic market to cushion impact of global crisis.  President Dilma Rousseff said the country was prepared for the global financial turbulence, but said a strengthened domestic market was crucial to overcome the tough times ahead (MercoPress).

Finance Minister Guido Mantega admitted that if the international crisis in the EU and US markets persists, Brazil would have to lower its growth estimate. Mantega described the problems in the developed countries as ‘chronic’ and said the ‘crisis situation’ would extend for the ‘coming years’. And if global consumption drops, “the world will be heading for a major recession” (MercoPress).

The Institute of International Finance, the world’s most influential lobby group for banks, said that a growing number of its members are unhappy with recent policy actions in Brazil and blame the decisions for hampering markets, according to a newspaper report (Reuters).

BUSINESS

German automaker BMW said it would probably build its first assembly plant in Brazil after strong demand for luxury cars generated stellar earnings for the global leader (Mercopress).

Eike Batista, 54, who ranked eighth on Forbes’ annual list of the world’s wealthiest this year with a $30 billion net worth, watched as his mining, oil and other companies lost 16.5% of their market value in dollars –the equivalent to $6.6 billion. And almost 60% of that lost market cap represented Batista’s personal paper losses. The tycoon’s response? A steady string of tweets to reassure the world that, in his words, he “navigates better in rough seas” (Wall Street Journal).

Brazilian utility Light announced that it acquired an interest in the plant that China’s Zongshen group is building in Brazil to produce electric motorcycles. Light, which distributes energy in the state of Rio de Janeiro, announced in a regulatory filing that it will pay 120,000 reais ($75,950) for 20 percent of the common shares of CR Zongshen E-Power (Latin American Herald Tribune).

Wal-Mart Stores Inc has hired UBS AG as an adviser as it weighs a potential purchase of Carrefour SA’s Brazilian unit (Reuters).

ANNOUNCEMENT

The Dutch Brazilian Chamber of Commerce is hosting another technical seminar: Distribution in Brazil: Logistics and Fiscal Challenges. When considering investments in Brazil of any kind, logistics soon appear as one of the biggest challenges. The sheer size of the country, being bigger than the European Union as a whole, would already be a challenge in itself. On top of that, however, infrastructural shortcomings and fiscal complexities add up to considerable additional complexity. Factors that have to be taken into account when making feasibility studies and calculating price-setting. This subject is relevant not only for professionals in logistics, but for any entrepreneur and executive dealing with business in Brazil, be it for mere exports to- or investments in, the latter being through fully owned subsidiaries or joint-venture constructions. The basic understanding of the issues involving distribution in Brazil may help to understand partners and colleagues dealing with the matter, avoid financial losses, and ultimately influence strategic decision making. The seminar takes place on August 31st at the KPMG offices in Rotterdam. For more details contact Mrs Celina Fortes or contact Dutcham.

AGRI ETC

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), in partnership with the Sugarcane Technology Center (CTC), other unions and associations of the South-Central region of Brazil, revised the crushing estimates for the 2011/2012 harvest released on July 2011. The new forecast estimates a crushing of 510.24 million tons, a reduction of 4.36% in comparison to the last revision (533.50 million tons) and a total reduction of 8.39% over the final value of the 2010/2011 harvest (556.95 million tons) (UNICA).

Fibria Celulose SA, the world’s largest pulp producer, said it may sell its Piracicaba plant in Brazil to OJI Paper Co. for $313 million. OJI, based in Tokyo, has been granted exclusive acquisition rights until Sept. 29, Sao Paulo-based Fibria said (Bloomberg).

Corn growers in Brazil, the world’s third-biggest producer, will harvest less grain this year than previously forecast after frost damaged winter crops, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. The harvest will be 56.3 million metric tons, down from a July 6 estimate of 57.1 million tons, the Ministry’s Conab crop- forecasting agency said (Bloomberg).

About 15 thousand Brazilian families will start to receive the “Green Grant” (“Bolsa Verde”) next September. Part of the “Brazil without Extreme Poverty” plan (“Brasil sem Miséria”), the grant is an income transfer program targeted specifically for families in extreme poverty that promote environmental conservation in areas where they live and work (Portal Brasil).

AVIATION

Embraer delivered the first EMBRAER 190 jet to China’s CDB Leasing Co., Ltd. (CLC). The aircraft will be operated by China Southern Air Holding Xinjiang Company, a branch of China Southern Airlines, which is the largest airline in China and the third in the world, in terms of traffic volume. As announced earlier this year, CLC has ordered a total of 30 EMBRAER 190s, including 20 firm orders and ten options, all of which for China Southern Airlines (Embraer).

Embraer will participate in the eighth Latin American Business Conference and Exhibition (LABACE), August 11-13, at Congonhas Airport (CGH), in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The Company will show the midsize Legacy 500 mockup with a near-production interior, alongside the entry level Phenom 100, light Phenom 300, and large Legacy 650 executive jets (Embraer).

The antitrust unit of Brazil’s finance ministry recommended the approval of a plan by Chilean airline LAN to buy rival Brazilian rival TAM Linhas Aereas, saying the deal will not harm competition in the country’s civil aviation market (Reuters).

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TWITTER, FACEBOOK & LINKEDIN

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MINING & STEEL

Vale said that it delivered its first coal by train from its Mozambican Moatize project to the port of Beira and expects to export the coal in August. The first train carried 2,200 metric tons of coal from Vale’s Moatize coal mine in the massive, coal-rich Tete basin in north west Mozambique to the costal port of Beira via the Sena railway line (Vale).

Japan’s JFE Steel Corp said it may join a steel mill project in Brazil planned by Vale and two South Korean steelmakers as it aims to tap growing markets in Latin America and the United States (Reuters).

OIL & GAS

The BNDES approved the creation of the Support Program for the Development of the Supply Chain for Oil & Gas sector-related Goods and Services (BNDES P&G). The program offers the BNDES new ways to support the supply chain of oil & gas goods and services, narrowing the relationship existing between the Bank and the sector (BNDES).

SBM Offshore N.V. of Rotterdam announced that one of its Affiliates and Queiroz Galvão Óleo e Gás S.A. , have received two Letters Of Intent, one from GUARA BV and one from BM-S-9 Consortium, established by the companies PETROLEO BRASILEIRO S.A. – PETROBRAS (Operator, 45%), BG E&P BRASIL LTDA (30%), and REPSOL SINOPEC BRASIL S.A. (25%) for a twenty year charter and operation of an FPSO for the Guará Norte development in the pre-salt area, offshore Brazil (Reuters).

Brazil’s leading shipyard Sete Brasil said government expectations about national content requirements for building the rigs, platforms and ships needed to develop its massive offshore oil reserves were unrealistic. Company Chief Executive Joao Carlos Ferraz said requirements that 60 percent of the rigs his company is building for state oil company Petrobras be produced locally were out of line with international industry norms (Reuters).

Petrobras said it may yet build floating factories to liquefy natural gas after rejecting the untried technology for two of its largest offshore fields (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly’s Culture & Regional news

In Brazil on August 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the interior of a new cultural centre of international standards for Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, to be finished by 2014 (Estado de Minas).

MEDIA

With an eye looking at a growing market in Brazil, driven in part by government efforts to make mobile technology more affordable, the National Association of Newspapers (ANJ in Portuguese) Digital Strategy Commission is considering unifying the distribution of digital editions of Brazilian newspapers for tablets (Knightcenter).

The proposed law 84/99, which the Brazilian legislature is treating as urgent, would significantly limit the freedom of Internet users and threaten their privacy, warned the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense. Proposed by Congressman Eduardo Azeredo, the initiative would specify penalties for Internet crimes. But according to the Institute, the bill would criminalize common, everyday behaviors of online consumers, such as file sharing, transfering a CD to a computer (Knightcenter).

TWITTER, FACEBOOK & LINKEDIN

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AMAZON

Guards in the Brazilian jungle protecting a tribe of Indians who have had no contact with the outside world say their guard post has been attacked by armed men. Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department said a guard post in Acre state had been surrounded by suspected drug dealers (BBC).

Brazilian indigenous protection officers to make emergency visit to isolated community facing threat from heavily armed gangs (The Guardian).

PARATY

Along the lush green shores of the Costa Verde, 270 kilometers south of Rio de Janeiro, you can find the small colonial town of Paraty. This postcard village is situated against the backdrop of mountains covered with tropical forest, and on the other side a scenic bay dotted with tropical islands and numerous deserted beaches adorns the town (The Rio Times).

CITIES

In the decade to 2008 São Paulo’s output grew only two-thirds as fast as Brazil’s, whereas Rio de Janeiro managed a pitiful 37% of the national average.  Some medium-sized cities—such as Curitiba and Florianópolis —are starting to show more dynamism than the urban behemoths (The Economist).

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RIO

In an operation carried out by Draco (the Delegacia de Repressão a Ações Criminosas Organizadas, or Department of Repression Against Organized Crime) that culminated on July 27th, fourteen police officials suspected of militia involvement were arrested near Jacarepaguá, in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) of Rio de Janeiro. Setting the criminal organization and individuals under investigation apart from others  is the fact that the militia was composed not only of individuals with links to the Military Police – as has been the case with many militias – but of members of the Civil and Federal Police corporations, the Aeronautical Police, and the Municipal Guard (The Rio Times).

The imposing construction in the middle of Guanabara Bay is one of the links between the past and the present history of Rio.  Opened in 1889 by Emperor D. Pedro II, the palace on Ilha Fiscal (Fiscal Island) hosted the last major event of the Empire and currently is one of the most beautiful sights of the city. After a fifteen minute boat trip, the visitor can enter a time tunnel to learn a little about the history of nineteenth-century Brazil (Rio Official Guide).

Continuing their series on renting apartments in Rio’s most popular neighborhoods, this week The Rio Times looks at the R$2,500 price range, and how it has changed since last year. Rio’s property market is booming right now and as a result, prices have risen along with the cities increasing popularity and investment potential. Nevertheless, one can still find rare gems of good value for this price range in the neighborhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Botafogo and Flamengo (The Rio Times).

SAO PAULO

Opened in 1958, the Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo is the largest zoo in Brazil and the fourth largest in the world (Time Out Sao Paulo).

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Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on August 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

POLITICS

Brazil’s defense minister has resigned after a newspaper reported that he had criticized two Cabinet colleagues. The defense minister, Nelson Jobim, is the third Cabinet member to quit since President Dilma Rousseff took office Jan. 1. The government said that Mr. Jobim, who denied that he had criticized other ministers, would be replaced by Celso Amorim, a former foreign minister (The New York Times).

Jobim is among other things said to have been angry that Ms Rousseff overruled him on a multi-billion dollar contract to buy fighter jets (BBC).

The corruption scandal that boiled over last week in the Ministry of Transportation and the National Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DNIT) seems to be affecting more than just the careers of the seventeen bureaucrats who resigned. Large numbers of public works in transportation infrastructure that were part of the PAC 2’s agenda are now being delayed or cancelled (The Rio Times).

In a speech at the opening of the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup® Qualifying Rounds, President Dilma Rousseff invited the world to get to know a different Brazil. “Those coming to the World Cup will get to know a Brazil beyond its soccer, its music and its popular festivals. They will get to know a better, better prepared Brazil,” she said (Portal Brasil).

High-profile scandals in President Dilma Rousseff’s government have soured ties with her allies, stalling legislation in Congress and delaying key infrastructure projects before the 2014 World Cup. Other key political risks include an apparent lack of interest in long-term structural reforms, pressure to heighten public spending, and renewed intervention in currency markets (Reuters).

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INTERNATIONAL

Argentina and Brazil reaffirmed their strategic alliance and commitment to Mercosur and regional integration during a summit in Brasilia, where President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner together with her Brazilian peer Dilma Rousseff inaugurated the new Argentine Embassy in the Brazilian capital (MercoPress).

Brazil intends to bar all Falkland-flagged shipping from its ports and backs Argentina’s position that British-backed oil exploration in the South Atlantic islands’ waters is illegal, it emerged after the two countries’ presidents met in Brasilia (UPI).

Colombia wants to double trade and increase investment with Latin American powerhouse Brazil, but tariffs and shipping costs remain obstacles, an investment conference was told (Reuters).

The biggest threat to a revolution in emerging market trade may be the emerging markets themselves as Brazil slaps import curbs on Chinese toys, Russia claims China dumps cold-rolled steel and China keeps its currency undervalued (Bloomberg).

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TWITTER, FACEBOOK & LINKEDIN

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil’s Air Force says one of its planes crashed in the country’s southeast, killing all eight people aboard. An Air Force statement says the single-engine Cessna Grand Caravan C-98A crashed near the city of Bom Jardim da Serra in the state of Santa Catarina (Washington Post).

Unlike many of its Latin American neighbors, Brazil has yet to hold a fact-finding “Truth Commission” to clarify responsibility for crimes committed during the military rule of 1964-1985. It also has not reversed an amnesty law that shields torturers from prosecution. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights declared the amnesty illegal in December. But a recent granting of first-of-its-kind access to Brazil’s National Archives may be a quiet indication that the direction is changing (The Global Post).

The Brazilian government published in the Official Journal a decree creating the Special Secretariat of Security for Major Events, a body that is responsible for the security in events such as 2014 World Cup (Xinhua).

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VISA

Getting a visa can be a complicated and stressing process, so The BrazilBusiness prepared an article with a step-by-step guide on how to get a Brazilian visa.