The number of foreigners interested in opening small businesses in Brazil has risen in recent years. The National Council of Immigration (CNI), connected to the Ministry of Labor, has analysed 72 requests for concessions of permanent visas for small entrepreneurs in 2002, a figure that rose to 146 in 2003.
This year, up to August, the organization had already analysed 124 requests. “And these are only the cases that have been received by the council,” stated CNI president Nilton Freitas.
So as to provide even more incentives for foreigners to open companies, attract funds, and generate jobs in the country, the government has decided to reduce the minimum value for foreign investment from US$ 200,000 to US$ 50,000.
“The minister of Labour, Ricardo Berzoini, asked us to make further investment in Brazil possible,” stated Freitas. With approval of the project, foreigners receive a permanent visa to be able to run their business.
Even investment below US$ 50,000 will be analysed by the council and approved if the enterprise will generate at least 10 jobs in five years.
The government has also taken steps to simplify and speed up the receipt of work visas for foreigners.
The CNI was already analysing and authorizing some projects for investment under US$ 200,000, but the decision of reducing the limit was only taken last week.
According to Freitas, there was a concrete foreign demand for simplification of the process for small investment.
“There was an increase in demand, which doubled between 2002 and 2003, and we believe that it is going to rise even more with the reduction of the minimum value,” he said.
“This is good news, and is going to privilege the entry of foreign investment into the country,” added the secretary general of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB), Michel Alaby.
Freitas added that, apart from the Ministry of Labor, other organizations had already recommended the measure.
“The Ministry of Labour also gave us this recommendation. Various Brazilian embassies abroad had also shown interest,” he said.
According to the president of the CNI, the greatest interest is for investment in the tourism sector, including the opening of inns, restaurants, and water-sport courses.
Those most interested, according to him, are the Portuguese, Italians and some Spaniards, and their interest is in enterprises on the coast of the country, especially in the Northeast.
“In richer countries, for example, there are people who have retired and are showing interest in coming to live in Brazil, to run small businesses. With the investment of their own pensions, they end up generating jobs and income in Brazil,” he said.
But, apart from the Europeans, according to Freitas, there are also many Argentineans who want authorization to set up businesses in the Southern region, in states like Santa Catarina, which has beautiful beaches.
The tourism industry is expanding in Brazil. According to figures by the Ministry of Tourism, 3.9 million foreigners visited Brazil between January and August this year, a figure 15.17% greater than that registered in the same period in 2003.
Such movement has generated revenues of US$ 2.1 billion, or 36% more than in the first eight months of last year.
Profit with foreign visitors, which is the difference between what foreigners spend in Brazil, and Brazilians spend abroad, was US$ 355 million in the period.
The Ministry of Tourism’s target is to increase the tourist flow in the country to over 9 million by 2007, which should generate revenues of US$ 8 billion.
Freitas stated that the council has already also analysed requests by the Arabs, but it does not have the numbers of requests. Michel Alaby stated, however, that “there is no doubt” Brazil may attract small Arab entrepreneurs. “There may be interest in the tourism sector, in agriculture, or even in industry,” stated Alaby.
Some niches for the Arabs, added the CCAB director, may be sectors in which the Middle Eastern and North African countries are great importers of Brazilian products, like food. It is worth recalling that the history of the Arab colony in Brazil, which currently totals around 12 million descendants, started with small entrepreneurs, mainly in trade.
ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency