Country Focus Data: Brazil

by Melissa Alexander
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Capital: Brasilia

Demography: Population 174.5 million, 0.91% growth rate (July 2001 estimates); Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French languages; predominantly Roman Catholic religion.

Geography: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean; climate is mostly tropical, but temperate in the south; mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north, some plains, hills, mountains and narrow coastal belt.

Government: Federative republic. Chief of state and head of government is President Fernando Cardoso.

Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture under Minister Marcus Vinicius Pratini de Moraes.

Economy: Brazil has the 10th largest economy in the world, with large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors. Agriculture accounts for 9% of gross domestic product and employs 23% of the workforce. The Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the Russian bond default in August 1998 prompted a fiscal adjustment program. Brazil received U.S.$42 billion from the International Monetary Fund in November 1998, and in January 1999, the Brazilian Central Bank announced that its currency, the real, would no longer be pegged to the U.S. dollar, a devaluation that helped to moderate the downturn in economic growth in 1999. The economy continued to recover in 2000, with inflation remaining in the single digits. Brazil continued its transition from a state-dominated and protected economy to a free-market system in 2000, with deregulation, trade liberalization and privatization accelerated as the government aimed to achieve long term economic stability.

G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$6,500 (purchasing power parity), 4.2% growth rate, 6% inflation, 7.1% unemployment (2000 estimates).

Currency: Brazil Real. Oct. 12, 2001 exchange rate: 2.780 Reals per U.S. dollar.

Exports: U.S.$55.1 billion (f.o.b. 2000), iron ore, soybeans, footwear, coffee.

Imports: U.S.$55.8 billion (f.o.b.2000), machinery and equipment, chemical products, oil.

Major crops/agricultural products: Soybeans, coffee, wheat, maize, cocoa, rice, sugarcane.

Wheat: Production in the past five years averaged 2.4 million tonnes a year, ranging from a low of 1.7 million in 2000-01 to an expected high of 3.2 million this season. Imports averaged 6.9 million tonnes and consumption averaged 9.2 million.

Maize: Five-year production averaged 34.2 million tonnes, with a record 41 million harvested in 2000, compared with the five-year low of 30.1 million in 1997-98. Total use averaged 34.4 million tonnes, imports averaged 1.1 million, and exports averaged 1 million. But in the past two seasons, Brazil has exported a total of 4.6 million tonnes, while importing only 800,000.

Oilseeds: Soybeans are the key oilseed crop, with five-year output averaging 34.9 million tonnes, exports averaging 11.8 million, and crush averaging 22.1 million.

Transportation: Highways, 1.98 million km, 184,140 km paved; 30,539 km rail (excluding urban lines), mostly 1.000-m narrow gauge; Santos, Paranagua, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro are major ports.

1,000 tonnes










Wheat flour















2001-02 marketing year estimates, except wheat flour, 2000.

NA: Not available.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture; ABITRIGO (wheat flour production); International Grains Council (wheat flour imports).