The growth in Brazilian exports in 2004, over 30%, was viewed as “very positive” by the vice-president of the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association (AEB), José Augusto de Castro.
Brazil had exported more than US$ 94 billion by the fourth week of December, compared with US$ 73 billion for the entire year of 2003.
“We still did not attain the world’s highest growth rate. China, for example, increased its exports 35%,” he observes.
Castro points to the concomitant growth of imports as another important element. “This shows that the domestic market is expanding. When only exports increase, this might reflect a shrinking of the domestic market,” he explains.
The AEB vice-president points to both external and domestic factors as responsible for this notable export growth.
Among external factors, he cites the large increase in China’s imports, the “bird flu” in Southeast Asia, and lingering repercussions of the 2002 “mad cow disease,” which still prevents the United States from exporting beef to countries such as Japan and induced Brazil to occupy this market.
“The recovery of the Argentinean economy, after the debt moratorium, allowed us to break our records of exports to that country,” he recalls.
Among domestic factors, the AEB vice-president includes the maintenance of the dollar’s convertibility at around R$ 3 throughout the course of the year.
“The recession of the domestic market during the first four months of the year also led firms to turn their attention to the foreign market,” he explains.
The record-breaking prices of soybeans and iron ore were another reason for the increase in export earnings.
The AEB vice-president underscored the government’s export-promotion activities, conducted by the Brazilian Export Promotion Agency (Apex).
“This helped many companies that lacked technical conditions to export.”
Castro explained that “the Apex, through fairs and events, made it possible for Brazilian products to win recognition in countries to which we are not used to exporting.
For Castro, “President Lula’s trips clearly helped; even though the President’s main objective was political, this helped to project Brazil’s image in those countries.”
Translation: David Silberstein