Economy of Brazil

Economy of Brazil
Currency Brazilian real (BRL, R$)
Calendar year
Trade organizations
Unasul, WTO, Mercosur, G-20 and others
GDP $2.080 trillion (nominal; 2017 est.) $3.219 trillion (PPP; 2017 est.) [1]
GDP rank 8th (nominal) / 8th (PPP)
GDP growth
Increase 1.1% (2017 est.) [2] [3] [4]
GDP per capita
$10,019 (nominal; 68th; 2017 est.) [5] $15,500 (PPP; 86th; 2017 est.) [6]
GDP by sector
services: 76%
industry: 18,5%
agriculture: 5,5% (2016 est.) [7]
Increase 3.5% (2018 est.) [8] [9]
Population below poverty line
Positive decrease 3,8% (2016) [10]
Positive decrease 0.48 (2018 est.) [11] [12]
Labor force
120 million (2017 est.) [13]
Labor force by occupation
Agriculture: 8%; Industry: 22%; Services: 70% (2017 est.)
Unemployment Positive decrease 11.8% (January 2018) [14]
Main industries
Decrease 125th (2018) [15]
Exports $185.2 billion (2016 est.) [16]
Export goods
transport equipment, iron ore, soybeans, footwear, coffee, automobiles
Main export partners
  United States 20%
  European Union 18%
  China 13%
  Argentina 9%
  Japan 5%
Other 35% [16]
Imports $143.2 billion (2016 est.) [16]
Import goods
machinery, electrical and transport equipment, chemical products, oil, automotive parts, electronics
Main import partners
  European Union 22%
  United States 18%
  China 17%
  Argentina 7%
  South Korea 4%
Other 32% [16]
$985 billion (December 2017) [17]
Public finances
Positive decrease 78.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
Revenues $511.9 billion (2017 est.)
Expenses $462.6 billion (2017 est.)
Foreign reserves
$373.9 billion (2017 est.) [21] [22]
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.
GNI per capita in 2010:
  Brazil (9,390 $)
  Higher GNI per capita compared to Brazil
  Lower GNI per capita compared to Brazil

The economy of Brazil is the world's eighth largest economy by nominal GDP and eighth largest by purchasing power parity. The Brazilian economy is characterized by a mixed economy that relies on import substitution to achieve economic growth. Brazil has an estimated US$21.8 trillion worth of natural resources which includes vast amounts of gold, uranium, iron, and timber. [23]

As of late 2010, Brazil's economy is the largest of Latin America [24] and the second largest in the Americas.[ citation needed] From 2000 to 2012, Brazil was one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world, with an average annual GDP growth rate of over 5%, with its economy in 2012 surpassing that of the United Kingdom, temporarily making Brazil the world's sixth largest economy. However, Brazil's economy growth decelerated in 2013 [25] and the country entered a recession in 2014. In 2017, however, the economy started to recover, with a 1% GDP growth in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the economy grew 0.3% compared to the same period of the previous year, officially exiting the recession.

According to the World Economic Forum, Brazil was the top country in upward evolution of competitiveness in 2009, gaining eight positions among other countries, overcoming Russia for the first time, and partially closing the competitiveness gap with India and China among the BRIC economies. Important steps taken since the 1990s toward fiscal sustainability, as well as measures taken to liberalize and open the economy, have significantly boosted the country's competitiveness fundamentals, providing a better environment for private-sector development. [26]

In 2012 Forbes ranked Brazil as having the 5th largest number of billionaires in the world, a number much larger than what is found in other Latin American countries, and even ahead of United Kingdom and Japan. [27] Brazil is a member of diverse economic organizations, such as Mercosur, Unasul, G8+5, G20, WTO, Paris Club and the Cairns Group.


When the Portuguese explorers arrived in the 16th century, the native tribes of current-day Brazil, totaled about 2.5  million people and had lived virtually unchanged since the Stone Age. From Portugal's colonization of Brazil (1500–1822) until the late 1930s, the Brazilian economy relied on the production of primary products for exports. In the Portuguese Empire, Brazil was a colony subjected to an imperial mercantile policy, which had three main large-scale economic production cycles – sugar, gold and from the early 19th century on, coffee. The economy of Brazil was heavily dependent on African slave labor until the late 19th century (about 3 million imported African slaves in total). In that period Brazil was also the colony with the largest amount of European settlers, most of them Portuguese (including Azoreans and Madeirans) but also some Dutch (see Dutch Brazil), Spaniards, English, French, Germans, Flemish, Danish, Scottish and Sephardic Jews. Since then, Brazil experienced a period of strong economic and demographic growth accompanied by mass immigration from Europe, mainly from Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira), Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Switzerland, Austria and Russia. Smaller numbers of immigrants also came from the Netherlands, France, Finland, Iceland and the Scandinavian countries, Lithuania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Latvia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Malta, Macedonia and Luxembourg), the Middle East (mainly from Lebanon, Syria and Armenia), Japan, the United States and South Africa, until the 1930s. In the New World, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Peru (in descending order) were the countries that received most immigrants. In Brazil's case, statistics showed that 4.5  million people emigrated to the country between 1882 and 1934.

Currently,[ when?] with a population of over 204 million and abundant natural resources, Brazil is one of the ten largest markets in the world, producing tens of millions of tons of steel, 26 million tons of cement, 3.5  million television sets, and 3  million refrigerators. In addition, about 70  million cubic meters of petroleum were being processed annually into fuels, lubricants, propane gas, and a wide range of hundreds of petrochemicals.

Brazil has at least 161,500 kilometers of paved roads, more than 93 Gigawatts of installed electric power capacity and its real per capita GDP surpassed US$10,500 in 2008, due to the strong and continued appreciation of the real for the first time that decade. Its industrial sector accounts for three-fifths of the Latin American economy's industrial production. [28] The country's scientific and technological development is argued to be attractive to foreign direct investment, which has averaged US$30  billion per year the last years, compared to only US$2 billion per year last decade, [28] remarkable growth. The agricultural sector, locally called the agronegócio (agro-business), has also been remarkably dynamic: for two decades this sector has kept Brazil among the most highly productive countries in areas related to the rural sector. [28] The agricultural sector and the mining sector also supported trade surpluses which allowed for massive currency gains (rebound) and external debt paydown. Due to a downturn in Western economies, Brazil found itself in 2010 trying to halt the appreciation of the real. [29]

Data from the Asian Development Bank and the Tax Justice Network show the untaxed "shadow" economy of Brazil is 39% of GDP. [30][ citation needed]

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