Ease of Doing Business Rank: 124
Brazil is the largest South American country, located on the east coast of the continent. It consists of the mainland and an archipelago of 21 islands and islets on the South Atlantic Ocean.
Brazil shares borders with all South American countries, except for Chile and Ecuador. Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana lie to the north, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay to the west, and Uruguay lies to the south.
The official and national language of Brazil is Portuguese and 98 percent of residents speak it. German and Italian have co-official status.
Other languages such as Japanese, Spanish, Polish, Ukrainian, English, East Pomeranian, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic are spoken by small immigrant populations in some regions.
The 2019 population estimate for Brazil is 212.39 million.
The majority of the population lives in the southeast region of the country where 15 cities have a population of over one million residents. The largest urban centers are São Paulo (12.18 million) and Rio de Janeiro (6.32 million).
The top industries in Brazil are iron and steel production, automobile assembly, petroleum processing, chemicals production, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and ranching, financial services, computers, aircraft, and consumer durables.
The Times Higher Education World Rankings only lists two Brazilian universities in the top 500 in the world: the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Campinas.
The most common business entities in Brazil are Limited Liability Company, Limited Liability Corporation, Silent Partnership, Consortium, and Single Holder Limited Liability Entity.
The most commonly incorporated entity in Brazil is the Limited Liability Company.
Brazil offers a tax credit for income tax and capital gains paid in another country providing it does not exceed what is due to Brazil.
The country also offers a total or partial exemption from duty, excise tax, and social contributions on imported equipment used for approved investment projects.
Companies may also qualify for accelerated depreciation on equipment produced in Brazil. They may also qualify for low-cost financing and some capital equipment is also exempt from state sales tax.
Corporate taxpayers can also deposit a portion of their income tax liability which they can use for reinvestment and/or investment in their own projects. Upon approval, these projects also enjoy a total or partial tax exemption.
Some tax incentives also exist for projects focused on technological innovation.
The Brazilian government also offers the Programa de Parcerias de Investimentos. It is meant to improve and strengthen private sector/state partnerships for public infrastructure.
The Brazilian National Development Bank supports this program through the Fundo de Apoio à Estruturação de Parcerias which provides technical services to structure these partnerships, including privatization.
Some regions also offer income tax exemptions or reductions to encourage development and industries of national importance.
Some excise and sales tax exemptions are also available to companies that export manufactured goods.
Brazil has many large business districts including Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. The largest is in São Paulo as it is the financial center of Brazil. The capital city is Brasília.
Brazil’s most popular destination is Rio de Janeiro with its annual Carnaval, Copacabana boardwalk, iconic Christ Redeemer statue overlooking the city, and rocky peak in the bay. However, Brazil offers much more.
The country has 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the modern architectural wonders in the planned capital city of Brasília. Conversely, Salvador’s Pelourinho boasts an exceptional collection of 17th- and 18th-century colonial buildings.
Salvador de Bahia, the first capital of Brazil between 1549 and 1763, blends European, African and Amerindian cultures. São Luís was founded by the French and later dominated by the Dutch and Portuguese. Brazil also has a history of gold and diamond mining, Jesuit missionaries, and slavery.
Brazil also features 60 percent of the world’s rainforest, exotic plants and animals, and the longest beach in the world, Praia do Cassino, measuring 150 miles.
Visit an Amazon rainforest and spot monkeys, sloths, parrots, and other exotic wildlife. At the point where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet, the spectacular semi-circular Iguaçu Falls made up of 247 individual cascades plunge into a gorge.
Brazil is also a modern nation. It is home to countless art galleries and museums, including the São Paulo Museum of Art. It houses one of the best Western art collections in Latin America, including works by Italian and Dutch masters, Impressionists, and modern art geniuses such as Matisse, Chagall, and Picasso.
Many of the country’s museums are also architectural masterpieces. The Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói in Rio de Janeiro is also worth a visit for its amazing curves, glass, and position on the water. The eye-shaped Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba is also an architectural marvel.
Brazil also has the most successful soccer team in the world, having won the FIFA World Cup five times. Every major city has a soccer stadium and watching a match is a very popular pastime.
Nomadic and semi-nomadic people lived in Brazil long before the Portuguese “discovered” the area around 1500 AD on their way to India. They were sent on behalf of King Manuel of Portugal to monopolize the trade of the red wood of the pau-brasil tree, used for making dyes.
After harvesting coastal trees, the Portuguese wanted to clear lands, establish plantations, and enslave the natives to avoid long treks inland for pau-brasil. However, the natives either fled or died from European diseases. The Portuguese then used African slaves for their workforce.
For two centuries, Portugal dealt with foreign powers wanting their share of Brazilian resources. The treaty between Portugal and Spain was vague and England, France, and Holland didn’t fully recognize it. Eventually the monarchy dispatched a governor-general accompanied by soldiers to establish the capital in present day El Salvador.
By the end of the 17th century, the area was renowned for rich deposits of emeralds, diamonds, and gold. These riches attracted European settlers to the Brazilian wilderness.
In 1763, the Portuguese government relocated the capital to Rio de Janeiro. The country continued to flourish by adding cotton, tobacco, and sugar to its exports. Cattle ranching also began.
In 1808, the Portuguese royal family fled to Portugal to escape Napoléon’s armies. Dom João VI initiated a series of building projects including universities, a bank, and a mint. He also opened the ports to trade with other nations, but especially England.
Dom João VI returned to Portugal, leaving his young son, Pedro I, to govern. However, in 1822 he declared Brazil’s independence. Nine years of unrest followed including costly foreign wars. His young son assumed the throne, but regents ruled until 1840 when he turned 14.
Pedro II’s daughter ended slavery in 1888, which did not sit well with landowners. They joined forces with the military and ousted the monarchy. In, 1889 Brazil began its first republican government.
Until 1930, the country’s presidents enjoyed the economic prosperity generated by coffee and rubber, but with little industrial and urban development. A military coup created a dictatorship led by Getúlio Vargas until 1945, but another coup unseated him. However, he returned to scene in 1951 when he was elected president, but was later implicated in a political scandal and shot himself.
By 1960, the new president had created a modern capital in Brasília and drained the coffers. However, he’d jump started key sectors in the economy, invited foreign capital, encouraged national development, and offered credit to business.
Brazil continued to face challenges. Successors resigned or were overthrown by the military. Five generals ruled for 20 years and built massive hydroelectric and nuclear power plants, but inflation soared.
Rule returned to civil hands in 1985, but Brazil still struggled. The would-be president died unexpectedly after surgery. The vice-president assumed power and oversaw the creation of a new constitution in 1988.
In 1990, the first duly elected president in 30 years took power. However, his fraudulent activities led to his impeachment in 1992. The vice-president assumed leadership and tried to bring Brazil’s inflation under control.
By 1994, yet another president took power. His government provided economic stability, but at a cost. Reduced public sector spending led to deep health and educational cuts, and the privatization of many state-owned industries.
In, 1998, he was re-elected and promised economic growth and an end to unemployment. The day after the election, he imposed new taxes and budget cuts. The recession and unemployment worsened.
The next president continued his predecessor’s efforts to keep inflation at bay. However, his reign was also marred by scandals. Nonetheless, his popularity with the lower classes and the country’s economic stability led to his re-election.
Brazil’s first female president took power for two terms, but discontent over transport, healthcare and education policies caused her popularity to plummet. She was also caught up in scandals and an impeachment process began.
In 2019, a retired military officer was elected president after a polarized and divisive campaign. Many believe his victory will likely worsen political turmoil and the country’s recession.
Brazil is primarily Christian (89.9%). Non-Christian faiths include Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Shinto, Rastafarian and others.
Brazilian society includes Native Brazilians, descendants of Portuguese colonists, Africans, and European, Arab, and Japanese immigrants. Other significant groups include Koreans, Chinese, Paraguayans, and Bolivians.
According to Forbes’ 2019 Best Countries for Business Brazil ranks 73rd overall globally for conducting business.
The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom rates Brazil 150th globally and states, “Brazil’s bloated and overly centralized federal government has been crushing economic freedom for decades.”
World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings rate Brazil at 109th.