News from Brazil

Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on July 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff is pessimistic about Brazil’s chances for a meaningful economic recovery this year and is pushing ahead with new measures aimed at lowering taxes and increasing investments, hoping they might give the economy a lift by 2013, government officials told Reuters.

The high cost of doing business in Brazil is a longstanding complaint among, well, pretty much anyone who does business in Brazil. Now the government is trying to chip away at one piece of the so-called Brazil cost: electricity rates that rank among the highest in the world (Bloomberg).

The trial, due to start on August 2nd, of 38 people accused of involvement in Brazil’s biggest corruption scandal of recent years is a rarity. The central accusation in the “mensalão” (big monthly stipend) case is that, after coming to power in 2003, the Workers’ Party (PT) diverted money from the advertising budgets and pension schemes of state-controlled firms to pay off legislators from allied parties, in return for their support. The allegations first surfaced in 2005, and the Supreme Court took on the case in 2007. Only now are the judges ready to try it (The Economist).

Brazil’s civil servants haven’t gotten President Dilma Rousseff’s message. A slowing economy, dwindling tax revenue and falling demand for the country’s commodity exports mean the government must tighten its belt, she argues. But customs workers, university professors and myriad other federal employees are staging strikes across the country, pushing for salary increases worth 92 billion reais ($45.3 billion) (Reuters).

Brazil’s federal tax revenues dropped more than expected in June from the same period a year before, as a stubborn economic slowdown hurts corporate profits and prompts the government to grant tax breaks to some industries (Reuters).

Leonardo Rolim, Brazil’s Secretary of Social Security, said during a press conference in Brasilia that total outflow this year was more than R$100 billion (about $50 billion), the most ever. The value includes Brazil’s base line social security program, known as INSS (R$60 billion) and government employee pensions taking up the rest.  The deficit increased by around R$2.75 billion in June. The total deficit in the social security program is expected to be R$38 billion by year’s end (Forbes).

The Brazilian government questioned as outdated the latest IMF report, released Friday July 20, in which the Fund calls for more domestic savings and greater attention to inflation (MercoPress).

INTERNATIONAL

Brazil’s Foreign Ministry removed nearly all its diplomats from the Brazilian embassy in Syria because of heavy fighting in Damascus. Itamaraty (the Brazilian Foreign Ministry) said in a statement diplomats were moved to Beirut, Lebanon, due to the “deteriorating security situation” (The Rio Times).

Exports from Brazil to countries in Africa have increased five percent year-on-year, totaling US$5.53 billion in the first half of 2012. The figures mean demand from Africa now outstrips that from the Middle East, and the total is also greater than Brazilian exports to Germany and France combined, O Globo newspaper reports (The Rio Times).

Brazil discusses with Chavez arrangements for Venezuela’s Mercosur incorporation. The Venezuelan President met with a committee from the Brazilian government to discuss mechanisms to speed the full integration of the country to the regional block. Brazil currently holds the Mercosur rotating chair (MercoPress).

The Bully from Brazil? South America’s superpower is shoving its weight around across the continent — and the natives aren’t exactly thrilled (Foreign Policy).

President Dilma Rousseff held talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron to pick up some tips on staging the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (MercoPress).

Brazil’s delegate before the World Trade Organization said he was contacting other members of the organization so that sanctions are imposed on those countries which alter artificial money exchange rates that harm emerging countries (MercoPress).

Brazil’s influential newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo blasted Brazilian foreign policy and its handling of the Paraguayan political crisis. In an opinion column under the heading “Dilma’s anti-diplomacy” the newspaper argues that the current administration is politicizing foreign policy, the same way that her predecessor, Lula da Silva (MercoPress).

Ambassador to Ghana, Irene Vida Gala announced that Brazil has plans to make available a 96-million-dollar loan facility to boost small-scale and rural farming in Ghana to help increase food production and subsequently improve the country’s bread basket (MercoPress).

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

The Agreement on Cooperation in Defence Field between Angola and Brazil establishes a range of actions, covering areas such as defence, polity, teaching and instruction, military intelligence, military equipment and systems, peacekeeping missions, humanitarian operations, search and rescue operations, among others. The agreement also expects the training of military and technical personnel, implementation and development of programmes and projects for the application of defence technologies, conduction of scientific research and promotion of military training activities (MercoPress).

The process to replace Brazil’s Presidency’s aircraft fleet with new models will be complete in 2013, when the second VH-36 Caracal helicopter will arrive at the Brazilian Air Force’s GTE (Special Transportation Group). The first unit was delivered last week and used by President Dilma Rousseff for the first time two days ago. The model, a VIP version of the medium transportation EC-725 helicopter made by France’s Eurocopter, is part of the delivery schedule established in the Brazil-France military agreement signed in 2009 (Folha).

SOCIAL

In a study The Price of Offshore Revisited, commissioned by the Tax Justice Network (TJN), it was estimated that Brazil’s richest have approximately US$520 billion worth deposited in tax havens. Brazil comes in fourth place only after China (US$1.18 trillion), Russia (US$798 billion) and South Korea (US$779 billion) (The Rio Times).

In 1996, Brazil was the first developing country to commit to free and universal access to the anti-retroviral drugs needed to treat HIV. It has also challenged patents on key treatments to ensure access to cheaper generic medicines. With high-profile safe sex campaigns and free distribution of condoms at events such as carnivals, Brazil was praised for its approach. The World Bank predicted in 1992 that Brazil would have 1.2 million cases by 2000, but in fact the authorities report approximately half that number today (BBC).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on July 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

ECONOMY

Ruchir Sharma argues in Foreign Affairs (“Bearish on Brazil,” May/June 2012) that Brazil’s incredible rise over the past ten years has depended on the sale of commodities, and that as commodity markets begin to slow, so, too, will Brazil’s growth. Sharma correctly notes that in the coming years, Brazil will likely need to confront a decline in commodity purchases from China. But he fails to recognize that economic stability has also driven Brazil’s growth. Read the reply by Shannon O’Neil at Foreign Affairs.

A rebound in Brazil’s foreign direct investment in June fully covered a widening current account deficit, central bank data showed, underscoring the resilience of foreign investment even as the international and local economy slow sharply (Reuters).

The Brazilian economy is on its way to recovery, with recent interest rate cuts and stimulus measures expected to lead to greater growth in the second half of 2012, central bank president Alexandre Tombini said (Reuters).

Fitch affirms Brazil’s ratings at ‘BBB’, outlook is stable (Reuters).

The release of Brazil’s unemployment rate for June was postponed due to a civil servants’ strike, the national statistics agency IBGE said (Reuters).

Lending in Brazil grew at the slowest pace in four months in June as private sector lenders put the brakes on credit disbursements to arrest a surge in delinquencies (Reuters).

Consumer confidence in Brazil fell for the third consecutive month in July, as Brazilians grew increasingly dissatisfied with current economic conditions and less optimistic about the near future. Brazil’s consumer confidence index fell to 121.6 in July from 123.5 in the prior month after seasonal adjustments, private research institute Fundação Getúlio Vargas said (Reuters).

DIRECT DATA

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

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BUSINESS

The BNDES has approved financial support for Recepta Biopharma S.A. in the amount of R$ 28.9 million. The company employs biotechnology to produce pharmaceutical products used in treating cancer, a high-tech sector with the potential to generate benefits for society as a whole. BNDESPAR, the BNDES’ corporate shareholding arm, will subscribe the company’s shares, holding a part of its capital (BNDES).

AUTOMOTIVE

The Brazilian subsidiary of General Motors Co. says it has temporarily shut down its eight production units near Sao Paulo amid fears of unspecified action by a local union that warns of imminent mass dismissals (Washington Post).

AVIATION

Boeing Co. ’s Brazilian unit, Boeing do Brasil, expects to sell more than 1,000 aircraft in the South American country by 2032, equivalent to 40 percent of potential sales to all of Latin America, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, citing an interview with the unit’s chief executive officer, Donna Hrinak (Bloomberg).

BANKING & FINANCE

Redpoint e.ventures, the Brazilian venture-capital firm created by Redpoint Ventures and e.ventures, said it had raised $130 million for its inaugural early-stage fund (Reuters).

Brazil’s bank giants are putting prudence before politics. Itau and Bradesco are slowing consumer lending as loan defaults climb. The move runs counter to the wishes of President Dilma Rousseff, who is pressuring the nation’s banks to lend more at rock-bottom rates. But with consumers and the broader economy under pressure, a dose of financial conservatism is welcome (Reuters).

Brazilian companies are canceling initial public offerings at the second-highest rate among the biggest emerging markets as slowing economic growth makes the country’s benchmark stock index the worst performer this year (Bloomberg).

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OIL & GAS

The chief executive of Petrobras , Maria das Gracas Silva Foster, will take over direct management of the firm’s international operations, following the resignation of the current head of the unit, Jorge Luiz Zelada (Marketwatch).

PORTS

The newest addition to Rio de Janeiro state’s Superporto do Açu will be where Norwegian company Subsea 7 plans to begin manufacturing oil and gas pipelines in 2014. The R$21 million-per-year lease was signed following Subsea 7’s withdrawal from plans to build the project in the southeastern state of Paraná, where difficulties in obtaining an environmental license blocked the company’s first choice of location (The Rio Times).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Tourism and Regional News

In Brazil on July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Both neighborhood locals and the staff of the Museum of Image and Sound (MIS) are keenly awaiting the cultural institution’s move to Copacabana, but construction setbacks and rising project costs have delayed the relocation (The Rio Times).

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

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

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TRAVEL & TOURISM

BHG, Brazil Hospitality Group, maintains its expansion pace and announces two new Tulip Inn hotels. According to its strategy of investing in cities with strong demand and potential for tourism business growth, BHG has announced the development of hotels in Itaboraí (RJ) and Sete Lagoas (MG) (BW).

The day when Brazilians can travel to the U.S. without a visa may be getting closer. Brazil and the United States agreed to set up a working group to study visa waivers (Miami Herald).

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RIO

The Rio de Janeiro’s Olympics in four years will be modeled on London 2012 more than Beijing but will not really resemble either, the man whose brief includes steering one of the most crucial phases of Brazil’s development, said (Reuters).

An attack by suspected gang members in the Complexo do Alemão favela community in Zona Norte (North Zone) resulted in the death of a police officer, the first to be killed in a pacified favela. Officer Fabiana Aparecida de Souza, age 30, at the Nova Brasília UPP (Police Pacification Unit) was fatally shot during a firefight Monday, July 23rd (The Rio Times).

The number of burglaries and vehicle thefts in Rio de Janeiro has risen dramatically in the first half of 2012, with car thefts up 27.4 percent and residential burglaries witnessing an increase of 21.6 percent for the six-month period (The Rio Times).

Eduardo Paes appears to be heading for re-election as Rio Mayor after an opinion poll gave him a 54-percent share of the vote. The Datafolha poll, commissioned by Folha de São Paulo newspaper and TV Globo, asked 927 people how they intended to vote in the upcoming municipal elections in October (The Rio Times).

SAO PAULO

Murders and robberies are soaring in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city and financial capital, in a crime wave that could further hurt the local economy and have national political implications. Sao Paulo had 622 homicides in the first six months of the year, a 21 percent increase over the same period of 2011, according to government data released this week. Armed robberies grew 8 percent, and are now occurring at the rate of 319 a day in the city of more than 11 million people (Reuters).

The President of Investe São Paulo -the gateway for companies that intend to settle their operations in the Brazilian state- referred to the ongoing foreign investment boom in the neighbouring country is due in part to the “lack of both legal and economic security that Argentina and its government have” (MercoPress).

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Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on July 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

POLITICS

The 2012 Brazilian municipal elections will not take place until October but with rifts between staunch allies, and political rivals forging unexpected deals, this year’s elections have already taken on national significance. There are over 5,566 municipalities in Brazil where voting will determine mayors, deputy mayors and city councilors – and the race has started (The Rio Times).

President Dilma Rousseff announced a government investment plan of some 7 billion reais (3.5 billion U.S. dollars) to improve transportation infrastructure in mid-size towns. The stimulus measure will be used to finance transportation projects carried out by municipal or state governments. Some 75 cities with a population of 250,000 to 700,000 will be eligible for the funds (Xinhua).

Leonardo Gomes Pereira, the chief financial officer of Brazilian airline Gol Linhas Aereas was nominated to head the country’s securities regulator, in an unexpected pick outside the institution. Finance Minister Guido Mantega nominated Pereira to head the regulator, the CVM (MercoPress).

An imminent Supreme Court trial of former government and ruling-party officials is reviving Brazil’s biggest corruption scandal in two decades, with the potential to damage not only the Workers’ Party, but also popular ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The trial, set to begin Aug. 2, stems from allegations, first aired in 2005, that Mr. da Silva’s powerful chief-of-staff José Dirceu offered monthly bribes, equal in some cases to more than $10,000, to members of Congress in exchange for their votes (Wall Street Journal).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

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INTERNATIONAL

Former Brazilian president Fernando Enrique Cardoso said that his country is rapidly losing influence in South America to Venezuela, following on remarks about the suspension of Paraguay from Mercosur (MercoPress).

Brazil is considering imposing punishing trade measures on the US for flooding the global market with heavily subsidised cotton (The Guardian).

The current search for new trading partners in unexpected geographic areas demonstrates the extent to which Brazil has changed its foreign policy the last few years. With an agenda that has focused primarily on global business performance, the Middle East has emerged as a key area for Brazilians who want to expand the consumer market of their companies (Global Voices).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

President Dilma Rousseff is shopping for a new presidential jet and is said to be talking to Boeing about buying one. Rousseff is seeking a larger plane more consistent with Brazil’s growing economic and geopolitical might and is evaluating the purchase of a Boeing 747 similar to Air Force One, the aircraft used by the president of the United States (Reuters).

Meanwhile U.S. aerospace company Boeing Co has offered to transfer more technology to Brazil if the government upgraded its Air Force fighter fleet with the firm’s F-18 Super Hornet jet (Reuters).

The Senate’s Plenary approved the Chamber’s Bill 64/20212, which authorizes the creation of the public company Amazonia Azul Defense Technologies (Amazul). The main goal of the company is to develop the Brazilian nuclear sector, especially the part related to the construction of a submarine propeller moved by nuclear energy (Federal Senate).

EDUCATION

Launched in December 2011, the Science Without Frontiers Program presents a positive balance for Brazil. More than 6,700 Brazilian students are already overseas, in universities of excellence, as scholarship students for the program. In September, over 12,000 students go overseas to do a one-year of undergraduate studies in institutions from 12 countries: Germany, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Korea, Spain, United States, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal and the UK (Portal Brasil).

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SOCIAL

The homicide rate for Brazilian young people under age 19 shot up 346 percent over the past three decades, according to research published by the Latin American School of Social Sciences (Washinghton Post).

Brazil’s prison crisis is now the midwife of some inventive programmes to boost early release (The Guardian).

C Class now represents 54% of the Brazilian population. The effects of the change are visible: advertising has changed its focus and now does not restrict itself to showing just the rich and white: companies that before only targeted the super rich AAA Class, can now think of nothing but selling to the new middle class. Sellers are being trained to avoid judging people by their appearance –a common habit in a Brazil with a history of stark divides among the classes (Folha).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on July 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

ECONOMY

Brazil’s economy has barely grown since the middle of last year. But somebody apparently forgot to tell the Brazilians. A measure of consumer confidence rose in June to its second-highest level in more than a year, reflecting widespread optimism over the Brazilian economy and individuals’ own job prospects going forward (Reuters).

But economists lowered their forecasts for economic growth in Brazil this year for the tenth straight week, to 1.90 percent from 2.01 percent even as forecasts for inflation rose, a central bank survey of economists showed (Reuters).

After Brazil’s disastrous retail sales data last week, no wonder that some have started to question the country’s supposed “two-speed” model of growth. If the consumer boom is now faltering as well as headline growth, perhaps Brazil is simply destined to be a “no-speed” economy instead? However two studies this week have suggested that Brazil continues to be distinctly bipolar (The Financial Times).

Brazil’s old friend, the commodity market, did offer some brief reprieve from the gloom (Beyond Brics).

DIRECT DATA

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

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BUSINESS

Telecom Italia’s Brazil unit said late that it will challenge in court a penalty by the country’s telecommunications regulator that suspended its sale of mobile phone plans in 19 states due to complaints over service (Reuters).

AGRI ETC

President Dilma Rousseff and Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Mendes Ribeiro Filho last month launched a new  Agriculture and Livestock Plan for Brazil, which will include R$ 115.2 billion (US$ 55.5 billion) in federal government investments in Brazil’s agriculture business crop over the 2012/2013 season (Portal Brasil).

Abundant rainfall over Brazil’s main center-south sugar cane crop during this dry season risks stranding some of the 2012/13 crop until the next season, leading sugar and ethanol consultancy Datagro said (Reuters).

The amount of sugar waiting to be loaded at main ports in Brazil, the world’s largest producer, climbed 9.5 percent on increased shipments to China, according to shipping agency Williams Servicos Maritimos Ltda (Bloomberg).

The world’s first industrial plant producing bio-fuels from seaweed will be built in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco in late 2013, the official in charge of the project said (MercoPress).

AUTOMOTIVE

Tata Motors is in talks with Brazilian authorities about setting up a plant to assemble Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) Freelander four-by-fours. Once assured that it can produce cars in sufficient volume, Jaguar Land Rover will then look at setting up a plant in Brazil, which is on track to become the world’s third-biggest car market (Reuters).

A Brazilian union carried out a 24-hour strike at a General Motors Co factory  to protest dwindling output on an assembly line where workers fear for the future of 1.500 jobs (MercoPress).

AVIATION

Brazil is considering changing the way airport licenses are awarded ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, which will boost tourism in the world’s second-largest emerging market (Bloomberg).

Anac (National Civil Aviation Agency) is considering canceling the licenses of at least 95 Brazilian pilots flying international flights. The agency suspects the pilots are not as fluent in English as they state they are (Folha).

BANKING & FINANCE

Lending at Brazil state development bank BNDES unexpectedly rose in the first five months of the year, led by disbursements to infrastructure projects, in an encouraging sign of a looming recovery in investment in Latin America’s largest economy (Reuters).

Losses from Brazilian bank Cruzeiro do Sul have grown to 2.5 billion reais ($1.25 billion), double the central bank’s initial estimate when it seized the mid-sized lender in June on suspicion of fraud (Reuters).

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OIL & GAS

Anadarko Petroleum Corp has put the sale of some of its deepwater assets in Brazil on hold (Reuters).

Petrobras, and partners signed $4.5 billion worth of contracts for the construction of six offshore oil platform, the company said in a securities filing (Reuters).

Chevron Corp. could have avoided a November oil spill of 3,700 barrels into the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil’s coast had it interpreted geological data better and followed industry safety practices more closely, the director of the national oil regulator said (Reuters).

Petrobras, the worst- performing major oil stock this year, is raising fuel prices even as a recession in Europe and slowdown in China reduces revenue at global energy providers (Bloomberg).

POWER

Five of the biggest wind-turbine makers have been shut out of Brazil’s $3.5 billion market by the national development bank BNDES after failing to meet local- content requirements. Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Suzlon Energy Ltd. , Siemens AG, Acciona SA and Fuhrlaender AG aren’t getting at least 40 percent of their parts from local suppliers and are no longer eligible for BNDES financing, the country’s only source of loans for turbines (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s government may cut fees levied on power companies and will demand tariffs reductions when renewing concessions that expire in 2015 to reduce energy costs by about 20 percent (Bloomberg).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional news

In Brazil on July 20, 2012 at 10:03 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of a 85-floor, 350 metre high, commercial tower project for Belo Horizonte, whihc would be Latin America’s tallest, if built (More).

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

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

FIFA WORLD CUP

Add another headache to the construction delays, cost overruns and overall unease about Brazil’s sports infrastructure as it gears up to host the World Cup and Olympics later this decade: an embarrassing name on one of the country’s marquee stadiums, the João Havelange Stadium in Rio de Janeiro (Reuters).

CULTURE

Jorge Amado, who died in 2001, would have turned 100 on 10 August, and the excellent Museu da Língua Portuguesa – Museum of the Portuguese Language – is anticipating the centenary with the exhibition ‘Jorge Amado e Universal’ (‘Jorge Amado/Beloved and Universal’) (Time Out Sao Paulo).

AMAZON

Police in Brazil have arrested 18 people in connection with the killing of an indigenous leader last November. Gunmen shot Nisio Gomes in Mato Grosso do Sul and took away his body, which is still missing (BBC).

Brazilian police have carried out a big operation against illegal gold miners in the Amazon, arresting at least 26 people. Gold, mining equipment and several aircraft used to take men and supplies into the remote region were seized (BBC).

RIO

A recent study conducted by Cândido Mendes University in Rio de Janeiro indicated that a large number of officers in the Police Pacifying Unit (UPP), which has been the foundation to a program of law enforcement inside the city’s favelas, are unhappy with their work and, according to the study, still “don’t wear the shirt” (The Rio Times).

With less than a fortnight before the starter pistol fires on London’s 2012 Olympic Games, across the Atlantic construction work has officially begun at what will be a key venue for the global sporting event in four years time. Officials gathered in Rio’s western neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca earlier this month (July 6th) to lay the foundation stone of the Olympic Park, a planned complex of sporting facilities that will host over half the events in 2016 (The Rio Times).

Rio’s sunny disposition leaves a plethora of outdoor activities to be enjoyed, on a rainy day however, many people can be left twiddling their thumbs. For those who enjoy a bit of retail therapy Rio’s super-sized mall, Rio Sul in Botafogo will more than likely keep you busy for the day (The Rio Times).

Work is advancing at the Acu Superport, developed by Eike Batista’s LLX (More pics).

SAO PAULO

Fitch Ratings has affirmed the following ratings for the State of Sao Paul. Read their analysis of the state’s economy at Reuters.

More than a million Brazilian Christians have taken part in a “March for Jesus” in Sao Paulo. Huge crowds thronged through the city’s main avenues, accompanied by floats blasting out gospel music. The evangelical groups who organised the march described it as the “largest Christian event in the world”. Brazil has the largest Roman Catholic population in the world, but other Christian churches have grown enormously in recent decades (BBC).

Drug traffickers are behind the wave of violence that has affected Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, over the past few weeks, Sao Paulo state Gov. Geraldo Alckmin said (Fox News).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

SOUTH

Brazilian biologists are investigating the deaths of more than 500 penguins found washed up on the beaches of Rio Grande do Sul state. Autopsies are being conducted on some of the birds to determine the cause of death. Researchers said the penguins appeared to have been well-fed, with no apparent injuries and no oil on their bodies (BBC).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on July 13, 2012 at 10:03 am

POLITICS

Earlier this week President Dilma Rousseff signed into law (Law 12.683/2012) a bill aimed at curbing money laundering offenses in Brazil.  It is a significant change from previous money laundering rules, and another in a series of actions taken by the president to (as much as possible) stamp out corruption that still hinders the country’s progress (The Rio Times).

Senator Demostenes Torres has been expelled from the Senate over alleged links with a gambling ring. Mr Torres, who is an independent, is only the second senator to be removed from his post by his fellow colleagues in the Senate’s 188-year history. Police say Mr Torres helped a detained gambling magnate obtain favours for his companies in exchange for money (BBC).

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INTERNATIONAL

Mounting protectionism and the rule-breaking admission of Venezuela have fatally undermined a once-promising trade block, the Mercosul (The Economist).

Brazil and the United States signed an agreement to boost customs cooperation and strengthen trade ties. Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano signed the accord in the Brazilian capital Brasilia. The two officials discussed joint efforts to promote customs cooperation to enhance trade relations and increase the observance of practices and standards recommended by the World Customs Organization (WCO) (Xinhua).

After two months of waiting, Brazil authorized the entry of apples from Argentina’s Alto Valle of Rio Negro and Neuquen. The news, which brings relief to local exporters, came after Argentina reopened its market to pork from Brazil (MercoPress).

In the years since the post-9/11 security reforms, the U.S. and Brazil have been strengthening relations in the security sector. As Brazil has developed into a prominent actor on the South American continent, the U.S. has increasingly considered Brazil to be a key figure in building relations with Latin America as a whole. In the realm of security, this developing relationship has been characterized by bi-lateral and multi-lateral initiatives, but at the same time has been tested by recent events that portrayed an all-too-silent security dilemma between the two nations. What could this mean for the future of U.S.-Brazilian relations? Read on At the Brazil Institute.

American interests are clearly aligned with Brazil’s. But the risk is that many in Washington still have a cold war mentality, especially in policies toward Latin America, and they still have an outdated vision of good vs evil. That is, Washington all too often prioritizes confronting Chavismo to supporting regional leader Brazil (Energy Tribune).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazilian Air Force has asked bidders to renew their offers on a contract to provide 36 next-generation fighter jets, extending for six months a race between US, French and Swedish contestants (MercoPress).

Embraer is announcing plans for Boeing Co to supply a new weapons system for its light attack fighter, strengthening its offer in a fiercely contested bid for a U.S. Air Force contract in Afghanistan (Reuters).

The Indonesian Air Force has signed a commercial contract for a second batch of eight light attack and tactical training A-29 Super Tucano. The order also includes a flight simulator that will be used for instructing and training Indonesian pilots. In August 2012, Indonesia will receive the first four airplanes from the initial batch of eight aircraft ordered in November 2010. Deliveries of the second batch are scheduled for 2014 (Embraer).

The first three new OPV’s, the “Amazonas”, was delivered last month by Britain’s BAE Systems and is capable of spending up to thirty-five days at sea. Each ship has two machine guns and a cannon on board with the capacity to house two speedboats and a helicopter in addition to six containers. It is likely that the ships will also be utilized for rescues (The Rio Times).

Interestingly, we have seen a fascinating change throughout the last months in our Brazil Weekly poll on what jet fighter to buy. In the beginning, the option to “develop its own plane” was hardly voted on. Now it has overtaken those with preference for the Rafale, which option was always a steady number 2, after the Super Hornet. With another 6 months delay, will “developing a new plane” become the most voted option?

SPLIT SECOND POLL

HEALTH

Brazil said it will breed huge numbers of genetically modified mosquitoes to help stop the spread of dengue fever, an illness that has already struck nearly 500,000 people this year nationwide, killing 74 (MercoPress).

A host of academic, legal, health, political and social figures are joining together to back a campaign to decriminalise drug use in Brazil, as tens of thousands of consumers uninvolved in the drug trade are currently jailed. The “Drug Law: It’s Time to Change” campaign is an initiative launched by the Brazilian Commission on Drugs and Democracy, which aims to gather one million signatures in support of a bill that will be introduced in congress during the second half of 2013 (IPS).

SPLIT SECOND POLLS

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on July 13, 2012 at 10:03 am

ECONOMY

Brazil’s economy stalled in May from the prior month but topped pessimistic market forecasts, official data showed, signaling that the world’s No. 6 economy could be on even footing to resume growth in coming months after massive government stimulus (Reuters).

The once booming South American powerhouse of Brazil will grow less than the U.S. this year.  The U.S. economy is forecast to grow by around 2 percent in 2012, the best of the advanced economies.  Meanwhile, Brazil’s GDP momentum has completely stopped, making it the worst performer of the big four emerging markets, the BRICs (Forbes).

Brazil has cut its key interest rate to the lowest rate ever in a move to kickstart its sluggish economy. The central bank lowered the nation’s benchmark Selic rate from last month’s 8.5 percent to 8.0 percent, saying the risks of an inflationary spike are “limited” (Washington Post).

Credit in Brazil is maxing out. A spike in defaults signals a need for caution, not yet panic (The Economist).

Brazil’s trade balance registered a surplus of $7.07 billion in the first half of this year. The surplus is the result of the difference between the total of $117.215 billion in exports and $110.142 billion in imports (Agencia Brasil).

Brazil’s government must slash taxes and curb spending to spur economic growth, as protectionist measures and growing state intervention are undermining the country’s competitiveness, billionaire financier André Esteves said (Reuters).

Brazil’s population and economic growth have pushed it to the brink. Whether by road, rail or air, the country is unprepared to handle rising transport demand. Now, the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games approaching, host country Brazil’s transportation revamps are more pressing than ever (Global Post).

When strategists at big Brazilian investment firms like Itau steer their wealth management clients away from their home country and up north, to Mexico, it’s worth noting. Brazil is a big country. It’s got a diverse economy. But it’s no longer Latin America’s favorite growth story. It’s going to grow around 2 percent this year, worse than it did last year. It’s fortunes are tied to China, to some extent, an economy still facing a hardish soft landing and needing monetary stimulus (Forbes).

DIRECT DATA

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

BUSINESS

Heineken Holding NV , the world’s third-largest brewer, will delay investments in Brazil after the government raised taxes on beer (Reuters).

Despite a steady climb in sales over the last five years and an expanding number of available brands, cachaça has a narrow user profile. Few liquors are so tied in consumers’ mind to a single cocktail (and in this case, one that may well be past its zenith). But cachaça may be ready for its second act (The New York Times).

Eike Batista’s resolve remains unshaken. After share prices for his six publicly traded companies recovered some of their losses this month, his net worth has rebounded to $20.4 billion from a low of $19.6 billion on June 28, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is the 22nd richest person in the world. Batista’s holding company, EBX Group Co., said its companies have enough cash to plow ahead with a $15.7 billion investment plan (Bloomberg).

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AGRI ETC.

Wet weather over Brazil’s cane belt continues to drag down sugar production in the world’s largest supplier of the sweetener, with output trailing the last crop by 29 percent by the end of June, milling industry association Unica said (Reuters).

AVIATION

Gol Linhas Aereas said it is expanding its South American destinations and will adjust international routes where the carrier’s occupancy has fallen short of competitors. Beginning this month and next, Gol will offer direct flights from Sao Paulo to Montevideo, Asuncion and Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It will also increase the frequency of flights to Buenos Aires from Brazil’s southern states (Reuters).

Embraer, the world’s largest maker of regional aircraft, said that combined deliveries of executive and commercial planes rose sharply in the second quarter, while its backlog of firm orders tumbled in the same period (Reuters).

China’s Hebei Airlines acquired five more Embraer190s jets to join its E-Jets fleet by the end of 2013. The total value of the deal, at list price, is USD 226 million. The order has been registered in the Company’s backlog for the second quarter of the year (Embraer).

If you’ve flown up to half-way across the U.S., chances are good you’ve been on a plane made by Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer. Nearly every U.S. airline or their regional partners are flying its newer E-Jets or older, smaller ERJ jets that seat 37 to 50 passengers. In all, Embraer counts more than 850 of its aircraft in the fleets of U.S. carriers (USA Today).

BANKING & FINANCE

Itaú Unibanco Holding , Brazil’s largest private-sector lender, formed a 1 billion real ($493 million) joint venture with smaller rival Banco BMG to offer payroll-deductible loans, the fastest-growing personal loan segment in Latin America’s largest economy (Reuters).

Banco do Brasil SA is looking for acquisitions in Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Chile as it seeks to expand its retail banking outside Brazil, newspaper Valor Economico reported, citing international business head Paulo Caffarelli (Bloomberg).

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MINING & STEEL

Two of Brazil’s most prominent dealmakers have joined forces to create a $520 million mining venture, confident that recent drops in iron ore and metal prices make some assets in the sector ripe for acquisitions. Investment bank BTG Pactual, controlled by billionaire financier André Esteves, has teamed up with Roger Agnelli, former chief executive of mining company Vale , to create B&A Mineração. BTG Pactual and Agnelli’s AGN Participações will each own half of São Paulo-based B&A (Reuters).

Hong Kong’s Honbridge Holdings Ltd plans to build a 420-kilometre pipeline to ship iron-ore from a mine in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state to the port of Ilheus on the country’s Atlantic coast (MercoPress).

OIL & GAS

Oil companies are finding signs of natural gas in all the wells drilled in Brazil’s Sao Francisco Basin, a landlocked petroleum frontier in the country’s Minas Gerais state, Magda Chambriard, director-general of Brazil’s petroleum regulator, ANP, said (Reuters).

A November oil spill at an offshore field operated by Chevron Corp. northeast of Rio de Janeiro did not kill or harm marine life, according to a crime lab report from the Brazilian Federal Police (Reuters).

Petrobras is considering putting two refineries up for sale abroad. It is part of the company’s strategy to sell assets to raise US$ 14.8 billion (R$ 30 billion) to finance its investment plans that focus on exploring pre-salt fields in Brazil. The refineries are in Japan and the U.S., and have never given the expected return. Petrobras confirmed that it is considering selling its refine assets abroad (Folha).

POWER

Suzlon Energy Ltd. , India’s biggest wind-turbine maker, agreed to build a components factory in Brazil as the country’s state development bank suspended loans to developers buying the machines from foreign companies (Bloomberg).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional News

In Brazil on July 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of what is just a small part of a grandiose scheme for the Campus Universitário of the Universidade do Estado do Amazonas (UEA), to be located in Iranduba in the Metropolitan Region of Manaus. The campus will be situated at a distance of 20 kilometres from the city centre, across the Rio Negro bridge (Skyscrapercity).

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

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

TOURISM

Brazil is set to double its annual tourist arrivals to 10 million by 2020. Flavio Dino, president of the Brazilian tourism institute Embratur, said the country, which will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, is striving to become more attractive to overseas travelers. Last year, despite the appreciation of the Brazilian currency real and the global economic crisis, Brazil received a record high of 5.4 million tourists (Xinhua).

FIFA WORLD CUP

Ex-FIFA President Joao Havelange and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira took multi-million dollar bribes on World Cup deals, Swiss prosecutors said in a legal document, dealing a fresh blow to world soccer’s ruling body (Reuters).

BRAZIL ABROAD

In its birthplace in northeast Brazil the folksy, accordion-driven and highly danceable music style known as forró used to be derided as “music for maids and taxi drivers.” No more: not only has the style become popular with a certain hip crowd in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in recent years, but this also seems to be the summer of forró in New York (The New York Times).

AMAZON

The extinction of dozens of Amazon species may be prevented in the next three decades by protecting more forests and reusing cleared land, according to an article in Science (Bloomberg).

About 300 Brazilian Indians have decided to end their three-week occupation at one of the work sites of the Belo Monte dam in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Both the Norte Energia consortium heading the hydroelectric project and activist groups assisting the Indians say the protesters left the work site (Washington Post).

PARATY

In its 10th year, Brazil’s biggest literary festival, held in Paraty on the coast, attracted 25,000 visitors, nearly as many people as live in the picturesque colonial town. They came for the celebrity authors and films, sure, but mostly for an intimacy with books (Bloomberg).

Paraty is the sort of bucolic Brazilian beach town for which words like ‘picturesque’, ‘colonial’, ‘charming’ and ‘ambling’ could have been invented. But it buzzes with life, ideas and conversation for FLIP when writers are the stars and Brazilian names like Luís Fernando Veríssimo get stopped on the street for photographs. It’s awfully civilized and more than a little posh, but it’s also a lot of fun (Folha).

RIO

Copacabana celebrated its 120th birthday. It was commemorated with a series of samba concerts on the beach in front of Copacabana Palace, with large LED screens displaying old and new photos of Copacabana to show the changes that have taken place in the famous neighborhood over the years. One of the more noticeable changes are the number of new kiosks that have sprung up all along the beach in recent years. These sport underground kitchens and expanded covered seating areas, as well as sleek new circular designs (The Rio Times).

UPP (Police Pacifying Unit) officers working inside Rio’s favela communities will from now on have their work closely monitored by a special police force. The measure comes as a response to a corruption scandal involving twelve UPP police officers in the favela of Mangueira (The Rio Times).

Rio de Janeiro’s former archbishop who provided shelter to thousands of people opposed to the military regimes that once ruled Brazil, Argentina and Chile has died at age 91. The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro said that Eugenio de Araujo Sales died of a heart attack in his sleep (Washington Post).

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SAO PAULO

Eight people have been shot dead in greater Sao Paulo during celebrations for the win by local team Palmeiras in the Brazilian Cup final, police say. Men on motorbikes and in cars drove through the town of Osasco, opening fire in different locations (BBC).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on July 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm

POLITICS

In May President Dilma Rousseff passed the Lei de Acesso à Informação (Access to Information Act) and the new Transparency Portal was reported to have published the wages of approximately 700,000 civil servants of the executive branch of Brazil’s government (The Rio Times).

Army captain Benoni Albernaz, head of an interrogators unit and one of the most vicious torturers of president Dilma Rousseff, when she a student leader linked to the guerrilla movement, died in 1992 according to O’Globo which published official documents from 1970 (Mercopress).

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INTERNATIONAL

Brazil’s bungled diplomacy infuriates President Rousseff. The crisis triggered by the removal of Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo has spilt over the borders of the country and has turned into a regional controversy that threatens to become a huge headache for Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff (Mercopress).

Uruguay says it was Brazil that forced the incorporation to Mercosur of Venezuela. The Uruguayan government revealed its disagreement with the way Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur was decided last Friday at the summit held in Mendoza, Argentina, and said “it was not the last word” since the process must be reviewed from a juridical point of view (MercoPress).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

The first flight of an upgraded Brazilian Air Force (FAB) AMX International A-1 light combat aircraft was conducted by Embraer Defense & Security on 19 June. A total of 33 single-seat A-1A and 10 dual-seat A-1B aircraft are to be upgraded and delivered between 2013 and 2017  (Janes).

SPLIT SECOND POLLS

SOCIAL

In 1960 just 17% of Brazilian women worked outside the home, among the lowest rates in Latin America; now two-thirds have jobs, one of the region’s highest. That is partly because they have far fewer children than in the past. In 1960 Brazilian women had six children each; now they average 1.9, fewer than anywhere else in Latin America except Cuba (The Economist).

Less than two-thirds of Brazilians identify as Catholics, marking a record decline in what is considered to be the world’s largest Catholic country, new figures showed (Mercopress).