flag Brazil Brazil: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Outline | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Outline

Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Brazil is the world's thirteenth largest economy. The country is still working on rebuilding itself after the recession that happened seven years ago, when the economy contracted by almost 7%. Since then, Brazil hasn’t been able to grow at the same pace it was used to during the decade before the recession hit. However, the Brazilian economy has been experiencing a slow but steady recovery in recent years. In 2021, GDP grew by an estimated 5.2%, mainly driven by a gradual re-opening of the economy and higher commodity exports. South America's largest economy is expected to grow at a slower pace in the coming years, with the IMF predicting a GDP growth of 1.5% in 2022 and 2% in 2023.

In 2021, inflation rate reached an estimated 7.7%, surpassing the Central Bank's target of 5.25% - and salaries haven't followed. However, inflation is expected to decrease to 5.3% in 2022 and 3.5% in 2023. The relatively high inflation rate and tighter credit conditions weakened household consumption in 2021. The Brazilian government claim the worst for the economy is behind it, but show no sign it is willing to ease up on its commitment to austerity and strict fiscal discipline. Government debt is currently 90.6%, and is expected to remain stable over the next two years at 90.2% in 2022 and 91.7% in 2023. The country is still mired in debt, and the pension system is pointed out by President Bolsonaro as a key source of increasing public debt. As a result, the senate passed the bill to the much-debated pension reform - the effects of which are yet to be felt. The government budget balance registered a deficit of 5.9% in 2021, a rate which is expected to slightly increase in 2022 and 2023, reaching 7.1% and 6.2%, respectively. To mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government continued implementing a series of fiscal measures in 2021, which included the expansion of heath spending, temporary income support to low-income households, and lower taxes and import levies on essential medical supplies, adding up to 1.4% of GDP. For 2022, however, that rate is expected to drop to 0.5% of GDP. Overall, Brazil's counter-cyclical packages in light of the pandemic have been effective in boosting economic activity, which has been gradually recovering. 

The unemployment rate in Brazil grew in 2021, reaching an expected 13.8%, mainly due to a prolonged period of low growth as the country recovered from the impacts of the pandemic. However, the government believes that the real figures are significantly higher, as an official unemployment survey shows that around 32 million people are under-utilised - meaning that they are either not working or working less than they could. Additionally, even those who are employed, often have informal jobs. In fact, the government estimates that 39.3 million people, or 41.6% of the country's employed work force, have informal jobs. The IMF expects that the unemployment rate will slightly decrease to 13.1% in 2022 and 12% in 2023, especially as the services sector recovers from the aftermath of the pandemic. Furthermore, the country continues to face social issues and has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world, with high disparities between the country's regions. Even though Brazil has lifted 28 million people out of poverty in the last 15 years, 10% of the population still live in poverty, while the country's richest 5% have the same income as the remaining 95% of the population.

 
Main Indicators 201920202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 1,877.821,444.72e1,645.841,810.611,958.41
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 1.4-4.1e4.70.31.6
GDP per Capita (USD) 8,936e6,823e7,7418,4649,102
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -5.7-12.1e-5.9-7.1-6.2
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 87.798.9e90.690.291.7
Inflation Rate (%) 3.73.2e7.75.33.5
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 11.913.5e13.813.112.0
Current Account (billions USD) -65.03-25.92-8.53-31.19-47.81
Current Account (in % of GDP) -3.5-1.8-0.5-1.7-2.4

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 

Main Sectors of Industry

Brazil has abundant natural resources and a relatively diversified economy. The country is the world's largest producer of coffee, sugar cane and oranges, and is one of the world’s largest producers of soya. With forests covering half of the country and the world’s largest rainforest, Brazil is the world’s fourth largest exporter of timber. Additionally, Brazil is home to the world’s largest commercial livestock heard. The country also attracts many multi-national groups in the food and bio-fuels industries. Still, even though agriculture represents 40.1% of exports, it contributes relatively little to the GDP (5.9%) and only employs 9% of the population. Nevertheless, agriculture grew significantly in 2021, mainly driven by the increase in soybean production and higher agricultural commodity prices.

Brazil is also a large industrial power, and has benefited greatly from its mineral ore wealth. The country is the world’s second largest exporter of iron, and one of the world’s main producers of aluminium and coal. As an oil producer, Brazil is aiming to become energy independent in the near future, with reserves that could make it one of the top five oil producers in the world. Furthermore, the country is increasingly asserting itself in the textile, aeronautics, pharmaceutical, automobile, steel and chemical industry sectors. Many of the world’s large automobile manufacturers have set up production plants in Brazil. The industry sector contributes 17.6% to the GDP and employs 19.9% of the population. However, in 2021, the sector was affected by a lack of inputs, persistent inflation, and the high prices of raw materials and other costs, such as electricity - which surged due to a persistent draught that the country is still facing.

The service sector represents 62.9% of Brazilian GDP and employs 70.9% of the active workforce. In recent years, the country has embarked on the production of high added-value services, especially in the fields of aeronautics and telecommunications. Tourism has also been on the rise in recent years, making it an important segment of the sector. Even though the services sector was hit the hardest during the pandemic, it showed a significant recovery in 2021 as vaccination rates rose and people's mobility increased. The sector's recovery was mainly driven by services to families, information and communication, and transport, as well as a gentle bounce of the tourism industry.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 9.1 20.0 70.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 5.9 17.7 62.9
Value Added (Annual % Change) 2.0 -3.5 -4.5

Source: World Bank, Latest available data.

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
53,4/100
World Rank:
143
Regional Rank:
24

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 

Business environment ranking

Definition:

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

Score:
6.26/10
World Rank:
51/82

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2021-2025

 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Jair BOLSONARO (since 1 January 2019) - the president is both Chief of State and Head of Government
Vice President: Antônio Hamilton Martins MOURÃO (since January 1, 2019)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: October 2022
Federal Senate (for one-third of Senate seats) and Chamber of Deputies: October 2022
Current Political Context
The far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, took office in January 2019 and since his inauguration he has been dealing with a polarised country where the impact of the deep 2015/16 recession is still visible. Even though Bolsonaro's policies continue to antagonise the Brazilian society, the economic response at the beginning of his mandate was positive, mainly thanks to the new Minister of the Economy, Paulo Guedes. The liberal Minister defends the formal independence of the Central Bank, the privatisation of state-owned companies, and a capitalisation system for social security. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced relief measures to aid informal and self-employed workers - at a fiscal cost of 4.8% of GDP - which managed to somewhat increase the president Bolsonaro approval rating. However, in 2021, a Senate committee evaluating the government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis gained momentum and the president's popularity among Brazilians significantly decreased, which could impact Bolsonaro's performance in the coming presidential elections. Also in 2021, the government obtained congressional approval for the official autonomy of the Central Bank and the bill that allows the privatisation of Electrobras, a state-owned electricity company. The Congress is also discussing an administrative reform aimed at changing the rules for new civil servants, limiting job stability for some careers; and a tax reform which would reduce corporate tax rates and create a dividend tax.
Main Political Parties
About two dozen political parties are represented in the Brazilian National Congress. Parties typically group together to form coalition governments. However, politicians often change parties, which has led to weak party discipline.

The main parties by number of seats in Congress are:

- Social Liberal Party (PSL): far-right, conservative, nationalist, militarist, liberal, anti-communism, anti-feminism, anti-LGBTQI+, populist. In 2018, after the presidential election of Bolsonaro, PSL became the second most powerful party in Brazil, with 56 elected officials both to the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. However, Bolsonaro left the party in 2019, causing PSL to lose some support, particularly among the president's most avid supporters.
- The Worker's Party (PT): centre-left, social democratic. Party with the highest number of elected representatives throughout the country since 2003. Retains majority in both chambers of Congress.
- The Liberal Party (PL): formely known as the Party of the Republic (PR). Centre-right to right, liberal, conservative, Christian democracy.
- The Progressive Party (PP): right-wing, nationalist, conservative.
- Social Democratic Party (PSD): big-tent party, centrist, liberal, Christian democracy.
- The Democratic Movement Party (MDB): big-tent party, centrist, liberal, conservative.
- The Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB): centre, social-democratic, liberal, conservative.
- The Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB): centre-left to left-wing, social-democratic, economic nationalism, state interventionism.
- Republicans: right-wing, conservative, Christian democracy.
- The Democrats (DEM): centre-right to right-wing, conservative, liberal, Christian democracy.
- Democratic Labour Party (PDT): centre-left, social-democratic, labourism.
- Solidarity (SDD): left-wing, social-democratic, labourism.
- Social Christian Party (PSC): right-wing to far-right, conservative, Christian democracy.
- Podemos (PODE): centre-right to right, nationalist, populist.
- Republican Party of the Social Order (PROS): centre-left, liberal, social-democratic, Christian democracy.
- Brazilian Labour Party (PTB): right-wing to far-right, social conservatism, Brazilian nationalism, right-wing populism.
- Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL): left-wing to far-left, social-democratic, anti-capitalist, environmentalist.
- Forward (Avante): centre, Third Way, populism.
- New Party (NOVO): centre-right to right-wing, liberalism.
- Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB): left-wing, Communism, Marxism–Leninism.
- Citizenship (Cidadania): centre to centre-left, social liberalism, Third Way.
- Patriot (Patriota): right-wing to far-right, social conservatism, economic liberalism, militarism.
- Green Party (PV): centre to centre-left, social-democratic, environmentalist, green politics.
- Sustainability Network (REDE): centre to centre-left, green politics, progressivism, environmentalism.

Type of State
Brazil is a federal presidential republic. The Brazilian constitution gives extensive powers to the government.
Executive Power
The President is both Head of State and Government. He or she holds executive power and appoints the Council of Ministers. The President and Vice-president are elected by universal suffrage for a four year term, with the possibility of re-election for a second successive term.
Legislative Power
The legislative power is bicameral. The National Congress is made up of two houses: the Senate (upper house) and the Chamber of Deputies (lower house). The Senate is comprised of 81 members (three members for each of the 26 states and the Federal District of Brasília), each elected on a majority basis for eight-year terms, with one-third and two-thirds of the membership elected alternatively every four years. The Chamber of Deputies is comprised of 513 members, with seats allocated according to proportional representation, elected every four years for a four-year term. There are also legislatures and administrations at the state level in each of Brazil’s 26 states and in the Federal District.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
111/180

Source: World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders

 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
2/7
Civil Liberties:
3/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the COVID-19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID-19 disease in Brazil, please visit the website of the Brazilian Ministry of Health. The agency provides a daily epidemiological update, which includes key national figures.
For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.
Sanitary measures
To find out about the latest public health situation in Brazil and the current sanitary measures in vigour, please consult the dedicated pages on the website of the Ministry of Health.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.
The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
For the information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including eventual restrictions on imports and exports, if applicable), please consult the portal of the Brazilian Ministry of Economy, as well as the customs authority website.
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Brazil on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the information on the economic recovery scheme put in place by the Brazilian government to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Brazilian economy, please visit the website of the Brazilian Ministry of the Economy (in Portuguese). Further details in English are available on the website of KPMG.
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Brazilian government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Brazil in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For the information on the local business support scheme established by the Brazilian government to help small and medium-sized companies to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on their activity, please consult the dedicated pages on the website of the Brazilian Ministry of Economy, as well as the portal of the National Development Bank (BNDES).
For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
Support plan for exporters
To find out about the support plan for exporters put in place by the Brazilian government, please consult the Brazilian Ministry of the Economy website. Further information can be sourced on the official governmental portal and on the FIESP website.
 

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Latest Update: May 2022