Volume 43, Number 168,
January-March 2012
Threats and Opportunities for Brazil's Trade
with China: Lessons for Brazil
Fernando Augusto Mansor de Mattos and Marcelo Dias Carcanholo

The data in Table 10 is organized in the same way as the data in Table 8, except with data relating to aladi member countries; there are similar features to the Mercosur, but with some products these features are more pronounced given that there is greater Chinese presence in aladi than in the Mercosur, in addition to the fact that the market is obviously wider. The statistics shown in Table 10 reveal that the share of products imported from China in these countries in 2008 was twice that of Brazilian products, with high-tech manufacturing products enjoying a particular advantage, alongside the traditionally represented low-tech manufacturing products. Their share increases significantly in the middle of the decade.

The 2010 data indicates that China's and Latin America's return to economic activity permitted China's exports to continue gaining ground within aladi's imports, rising from 11.5% to 14.8%, the increase coming from Brazil's share, which drops rapidly between 2008 and 2010, when her share is merely 2.4% of total imports in the aladi. The drop in Brazil's share was significant in all product areas, but particularly within the area of high-tech manufacturing products.1


It cannot be denied that the recent expansion of foreign trade with China has had short term benefits for economic activity in Brazil. There are still strong indicators that the expansion of Chinese exports has affected the performance of Brazilian exports in other markets, as well as Brazilian manufacturing production, increasingly substituted for Chinese products in the domestic market.

China has penetrated all global markets displacing sales from various countries and economic blocks in other markets across the world (Pasin, 2010). What is worrying in the case of Brazil is that in South America, and particularly Brazil, this trend seems to be stronger than in other places (there is growth above the world average). Furthermore, productive structures in Brazil and China are concurrent with various industrial sectors, which is why Brazil needs to strategize and plan to face the recent changes brought about the expansion of Chinese exports on all continents and within its own domestic market.

The statistics examined show that there is clear consistency between the data researched and organized in the first and second parts of this study with that of the third and fourth parts. In other words, the results obtained from cross referring data confirm and support the conclusions drawn by authors named in this study, with new evidence and fresh arguments.

The data concerning exports in the Mercosur suggests that Brazil could be losing the market to China in this economic block, particularly in technology intensive sectors and low-tech sectors (which are often labor intensive). It should also be pointed out that Brazil, as part of the Mercosur, is also subjected to this strong influx of imported products from China. There are clear indications that the strength of Chinese exports is limiting the entry possibilities for Brazilian exports in both Mercosur and aladi member countries, which is a worrying situation for Brazil.

This lack of Brazilian competitiveness, which exists in neighboring countries also, highlights the problems facing Brazil in terms of infrastructure and shows that China has an economic development model supported by policies of public investment in infrastructure, by state companies, by strategic export activities and by industrial policy effective in driving the most technology intensive sectors. Brazil has nothing similar. The end results in terms of contribution to international trade are also different.

31 This drop is particularly significant. The trend is confirmed on closely examining the rest of the Comtrade foreign trade data. Although 2009 was an atypical year, the drop was imminent, with Brazil representing merely 5.3% of aladi 12 imports. Examining the import trend for some of the selected countries, it can be seen, for example, that between 2008 and 2010, Mexican imports from Brazil dropped from 5.1to 4.3 in billions of dollars and Peruvian imports from 2.4 to 2.1. There was also a fall in Brazilian imports in Ecuador and Colombia, although less pronounced. In the case of Argentina and Chile, there was no access to specific data for the year 2010. However, information on imports in the data base mentioned, obtained from the view point of Latin American countries, shows a significant increase in Chinese products in Mexico (increasing from 34.7 billion dollars in 2008 to 45.6 billion dollars in 2010). There is also a significant increase in Peru and Colombia. Finally, looking at the information from the point of view of Brazilian and Chinese exports, the data base shows that Chinese exports to aladi 12 in 2005 amounted to nearly 18 billion dollars, less than Brazilian exports to the same region, which totalled almost 25.5 billion dollars. In 2008 Chinese exports totalled nearly 58 billion dollars, and Brazilian exports a little more than 43 billion dollars. In 2010, Chinese exports totalled 72.7 billion dollars, and Brazilian exports 41.2 billion dollars.

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 192, January-March is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Feb 23th, 2018.
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