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 also shows that in 1990, 28.1% of Brazilian exports were primary commodities, and that in 2008 the percentage was equivalent to 38.3%, an increase of 10.2 percentage points for the Brazilian export of primary commodities. China's share as the destination of these products was 6.2 points (Table 3). To look at it another way, the data shows that almost 90% of the increase in Brazilian exports destined for China is due to China's demand for primary commodities, and the rest is almost entirely due to natural resource based industrialized goods. China's increasing presence as a destination of Brazilian exports has meant that since the 1990s Japan has been displaced as the principal destination in Asia for Brazilian exports. As a destination for exports in 2008, China surpassed the total of sixteen countries19 in Pacific Asia (8.3% of total Brazilian exports in this year were destined for China, compared to 7.8% destined for the group of sixteen Asian countries defined).

Table 3 shows that the sixteen Asian countries selected also play an important role in the expansion of Brazilian primary commodity exports. It can be observed that there is a decline in the importance of the U.S.A and the European Union20 as a destination of Brazilian exports, a drop of ten percentage points for each22 between 1990 and 2008. The decline of trade with the U.S.A and the European Union is worrying, given that in 1990 both were responsible for almost half of Brazilian exports of medium and high-tech industrial goods. It is also important to emphasize that the increase in the relative share of other Latin American countries as destinations for Brazilian exports seems to be based on the uptake of medium-tech (mainly) and high-tech manufacturing products on the part of other countries, suggesting that trade with these countries could be an important alternative for Brazil for the export of goods of higher value added.22

The structure of Brazilian imports, in turn, suffered two marked changes in the trend between 1990 and 2008 (Table 4) and China's trade share was also decisive here, rising from merely 0.9% to 11.6%.

19 The site previously mentioned provides the methodological notes that refer to this data (see: http://www.eclac.org/cgi-bin/getprod.asp?xml=/comericio/noticias/paginas/2/21312/P21312.xml&xsl=/comercio/tpl/p18f.xsl&base=/comercio/tpl/top-bottom.xsl). For the sixteen Asian countries that form Asia 16, the notes indicate a group of 15 countries (not all of them Asian in fact) plus one named "other non-specified Asian countries." The 15 countries mentioned, that form part of a block in the document for analyzing foreign trade, are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Hong Kong (special administrative region of China), India, Indonesia, The People's Democratic Republic of Laos (Laos), Malaysia, Burma, New Zealand, The Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The data for Japan and China is evaluated separately owing to the individual importance of each.

20 According to eclac's methodology publication: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyrus, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithonia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden.

21 According to data from the Tables, 24.6% of Brazilian exports were destined for the U.S.A in 1990, and only 14% in 2008. The figures for the European Union are 33.6% and 23.5% respectively. These figures have dropped further in the last two years, since the crisis is affecting developed countries in particular.

22 As regards medium-tech industrial goods, Latin America and the Caribbean are the only trade destination for which there is an increase in the relative share of Brazilian exports between 1990 and 2008 (5.4 percentage points), although this did not prevent a drop in the share of exports of this product type within Brazilian exports as a whole during the period (a drop of 1.2 percentage points). In the case of high-tech industrial goods, there was an increase of 2.6 percentage points in the share of total Brazilian exports, of which 1.5 were destined exclusively for the Latin American continent and Caribbean. This demonstrates the increasing importance of these countries in the last twenty years as buyers of Brazilian products of higher technological content.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 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,
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