Publish in Special Reports - Monday, November 27, 2017
Sueli Bonaparte, president of the Brazil-Florida Business Council: Savvy US companies recognize Brazil’s underlying economic fundamentals and see this is a historic buying opportunity. (Photo: Brazil-Florida Business Council)
Recent economic reforms boosting investor interest, business outlook.
BY JOACHIM BAMRUD
Brazil’s economy, Latin America’s largest, is back on track, says Sueli Bonaparte, president of the Brazil-Florida Business Council (BFBC). In this interview with Latinvex, Bonaparte talks about the outlook for Brazil’s economy, US investor interest, investment grade and why she started the BFBC.
Latinvex: To what extent have recent economic reforms in Brazil helped interest in Brazil among US companies?
Bonaparte: Despite Brazil’s dismal economic performance, foreign direct investment has hit record highs amid recent reforms. Savvy US companies recognize Brazil’s underlying economic fundamentals and see this is a historic buying opportunity. The economic team of the current administration has brought confidence to the international financial market and they have quickly taken essential actions to bring the economy back on track. Despite modest economic growth forecasted for the coming year, analysts expect that the new administration will continue pro-growth policies to foster more robust economic recovery in the coming years.
Brazil is a strong economy, a solid democracy with a huge consumer market and once it shakes off its current political and economic troubles, it will emerge as an even stronger market as it has done in past economic crises. American corporations and global business leaders know that Brazil is a giant country with immense business opportunities and it will continue to attract companies eager to invest in long-term investments in untapped sectors of the economy, especially in energy, infrastructure, agribusiness, education and technology.
Latinvex: How do you view the outlook for the Brazil’s economy?
Bonaparte: I view Brazil growth outlook rebounding in 2018, not at a spectacular rate but much better than in past years. The severe Brazilian economic recession seems to be nearing its end. Several factors are contributing to a more positive scenario: efforts to boost the private sector activity; easing monetary policy and progress on the government’s economic reforms. However, the new administration will need to deliver on social security reform, a vital step forward securing fiscal sustainability. The corruption investigations and related political instability are sources of risks for Brazil, which could jeopardize the much-needed reforms for the economic recovery. But the recent crises show that transparency is increasing, and institutions are getting stronger.
Latinvex: Do you expect Brazil to regain investment grade soon?
Bonaparte: In the light of the current fiscal challenges, I think that it will take several years and policy reforms to be implemented quickly for Brazil to regain its investment grade rating. I hope I will be proved wrong with my thinking and that the new administration will surprise the financial community with fiscal and social reforms to turn around the economy sooner than expected. But Brazil still offers tremendous value for researched and disciplined business executives and foreign investors with a long-term perspective.
Latinvex: Why did you start the Brazil-Florida Business Council?
Bonaparte: When I moved to Tampa Bay in 2010, I came to appreciate a thriving, prosperous, vibrant region, with a business community engaged with local public officials in collaboration to attract more businesses from the US as well as from other countries.
Brazil is Florida’s number one international trade partner and the state has attracted investments from a significant number of Brazilian companies including Cutrale, Gerdau, Embraer, Citrosuco and Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras among others. The United States’ accelerating economic growth is evident in the region, and we expect that foreign companies and entrepreneurs like those in Brazil will continue to be attracted to the investment and business opportunities that Florida offers.
The State of Florida’s economy ranks among the four largest economies in the country and it is the top travel destination in the world. It also hosts the largest Brazilian community in the US and has become the favorite destination for Brazilian investment abroad.
With decades of experience in fostering Brazil- US business relations, I understand the tremendous value that a community forum for sharing ideas and information brings toward economic development. I recognized the unmet need for such a forum to connect business threads between Florida and Brazil during this period of renaissance that we are experiencing especially in the Tampa Bay region. The local business community has welcomed and supported the mission of the Brazil-Florida Business Council since its foundation.
Latinvex: What have been the council’s greatest achievements so far?
Bonaparte: The council’s success has been to directly and consistently involve a multitude of regional stakeholders, economic development agencies and community leaders to support our initiative since its inception. As a strong believer of the importance of partnerships, we have been engaging and receiving support from influencers and decision makers who believe in the mission of the Brazil-Florida Business Council to contribute to the economic and social development of both regions. As a membership-based business organization, our programs in Brazil and Florida are designed to facilitate and drive business development among our members and partners to help shape the conversation for future growth.
Latinvex: What are the key plans for the Council next year?
Bonaparte: We will continue the momentum of this exciting period of growth of the BFBC, and are already planning a series of activities that will further explore the Brazil-Florida business and investment landscape. As the Brazilian economy continues to recover and with the upcoming presidential election in 2018, we anticipate a year full of programs focused on informing our members and the general public about the economic and political outlook in the largest Latin America economy as well as discuss business trends and investment opportunities. Finally, the Council’s increasing visibility will allow us to execute an ambitious membership development campaign to attract even more solid companies in several sectors from both regions.
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