Brazil is a complicated market where the legal, business and political landscape can change rapidly. To help you navigate its many complexities, we provide a regular round-up of the most important business and political news that PR agencies and marketing professionals need to know.

  • WhatsApp service suspended in Brazil – A Brazilian judge ordered an indefinite suspension of Facebook’s WhatsApp on Tuesday (July 19th) after it failed to cooperate in a criminal investigation, the third such incident involving the popular phone messaging app since December. A judge in the state of Rio de Janeiro said the order, affecting more than 100 million users throughout Brazil, will be lifted once Facebook surrenders data information. WhatsApp stood by its defence that encrypted messages sent over the app are not stored on its servers, an argument that has won out on appeal, quickly reversing recent blockages that still show the vast discretionary power of Brazil’s lower courts. The office of Brazil’s attorney general reiterated its position that judges who suspend WhatsApp are incorrectly interpreting a 2014 law meant to provide a legal framework for the internet. Still, that guidance has not stopped judges frustrated with the modern limits of wiretaps in drug-trafficking investigations from going after the service and even briefly jailing a senior Facebook executive in March
  • Suspension of the vilified Eduardo Cunha, President of Congress, who resigned his position as President (Speaker) of Congress. The immediate reaction was competition among Congressmen to become his replacement, with 14 Members of the House putting themselves forward. Why is this important? The ultimate winner will have a major impact on Government’s ability to gain support in Congress to pass the legislation required for economic reform. Following his resignation, Cunha lost an appeal to the Congressional Constitutional Committee and the motion to expel Cunha from Congress is expected to take place in August. If passed, this motion should go some way to calming a politically toxic atmosphere in Congress and aid the government’s plans to stimulate economic recovery for Brazil
  • Long queues for domestic passengers reported following New Security Checks – Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) is advising air domestic airline passengers to arrive earlier than normal at airports because of new security procedures.    ANAC advises passengers allow two hours before flight departure time rather than one hour which is the current norm.  The new recommendations follow long queues being reported at Brazilian airports this Monday (18) after tighter security checks for domestic flights were introduced. Security checks now include requiring laptops and notebooks to be removed from hand luggage and scanned separately
  • Opening up Government controlled enterprises to market forces – President Temer sanctioned a new law setting out the criteria for nominating key executives at the Government controlled enterprises which are a large percentage of Brazil’s GDP. A minimum experience of 10 years in the industry, plus a minimum of 4 years experience as head of an area/ department will now be required for such appointees. These requirements are no panacea, as they would have been met by leading perpetrators of the corruption scandals at Petrobras who since have been condemned by the courts. No current or recent holders of political office, unionists, regulators or anyone with a conflict of interest will be accepted for these positions from here onwards. The new law promises to avoid the most blatant abuses of past practice, but did not meet the entire wish list of the Brazilian Institute of Corporate Governance (IBGC)
  • Interim President Temer says in interview with Folha de São Paulo Newspaper that he plans to privatize Congonhas and Santos Dumont Airports – In an attempt to to reduce the government deficit, interim president Michel Temer told Folha that he will consider the privatization of the Congonhas (SP) and Santos Dumont (RJ) airports. “We may have to privatize, the case will be analyzed, and Congonhas and Santos Dumont airports will represent a good addition,” said Temer. Six airports have already been transferred to the private initiative – these airports are responsible for 45% of the passengers travelling by air in the country. Temer became interim president in May when the Brazilian Senate began an impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff leading to her suspension from office
  • Partnership with Jamie Oliver forces Brazilian food giant BRF to invest in animal management improvements: In September, Sadia, a BRF brand, will launch a line of pre-prepared food based on chicken, to be marketed under the Jamie Oliver name. Oliver states that 183 of the poultry farms integrated with the Sadia operations were adapted to meet the practices of animal wellbeing that he defends
  • Brexit takes centre stage – Prior to the Brexit vote, Brazilians had looked on Brexit as an academic and distant possibility. Anyone concerned as to the relevance of the UK on the world stage would have been reassured that the country is centre stage in Brazil. The UK’s exit from the EU was the lead story on Brazilian news and chat shows after the results were announced in Manchester.  The UK Ambassador to Brazil made various statements representing Great Britain positively and contextualising the referendum vote in interviews with key publications, on the radio and TV and in the press. He also met with the Brazilian Foreign Secretary who is anxious to increase Brazilian exports, and who, reportedly, scented an opportunity for floating the idea of a Brazilian trade agreement with the UK
  • Money Managers foresee a unique period of increasing asset values in Brazil: Executives of Brazilian Money Managers were brimming with optimism at the 2016 annual markets awards ceremony organised by S&P Global Ratings for the Valor Econômico business newspaper. In part, their optimism is based on the Temer Government’s Governance blitz on the critical Government Controlled enterprises. This includes the appointment of new, professional management to these Companies, which includes major contributors to Brazil’s GDP, such as Petrobras and Banco do Brasil. The Money Managers believe that Brazil can benefit from an influx of Foreign Investment with the resolution of Brazil’s fiscal issues and with the reinvigoration of public concession projects. They see that local assets can get a boost from the resulting change of prospects, especially at a time when global interest rates are close to zero and likely to remain so
  • Retail shares up 35% in 2016 on the back of improved consumer confidence: While still lower than the historic high of 2012, this is the best performance of share prices in the retail sector since the recession starting biting into the pockets of consumers in 2014. Analysts explain that the improvement is driven by expected declines in interest rates and by the Federal Government getting inflation more under control. These expectations are reflected in the Getulio Vargas Foundation consumer confidence index, which in June reached its highest level in 12 months. Specialists warn however, that there still are no concrete signs of a sales recovery and that retailers are still licking their wounds as they prepare themselves for the upturn. – Hope springs eternal
  • Brazil is one of the top 4 markets for renewable energy: In less than 10 years Brazil has become one of the major world markets for wind farm energy generation. Between 2006 and 2015 the sector received some US$28 billion in investments, and in 2016 alone some US$5 billion
  • FAO and OECD studies show Brazil as a long-term winner in market for food products: Recent studies (ww.fao.org.br) show decelerating demand and global supply of agricultural products over the next decade, and project relative stability of international agricultural commodity prices. They also show that over the period Brazil will tend to gain greater market share in some of its principal markets such as soya, corn, sugar, milk, beef and chicken meat
  • Ministry of Agriculture finalising proposals to free up of land ownership by foreigners: Blairo Maggi, Minister of Agriculture announced that a working group of the Ministry will be finalising “in the next week or two” proposals to recognise the purchase of land in Brazil by foreigners. The proposal will permit foreign investors to become part of the thriving Brazilian agricultural production scene. The Minister stressed that while the timeline for the project has not yet been defined, “I have no restriction against foreign investment in agricultural land.”
  • Serasa Experian reports hike in requests for court protection from creditors: Serasa Experian reported that there were 88% more requests for court protection from creditors in the first half of 2016, than in the same period of 2015. This is the most number of requests since the Bankruptcy law became enacted in 2005. Of the requests, 535 were made by small enterprises, 246 were by medium sized enterprises and 142 by big enterprises
  • International fashion retailers skirt around Brazil: In the last few months, several international fashion retailers have left the country or have given up plans to install themselves in Brazil.  Sonne, consultants in Brand Management, believes that the environment is too difficult for these big retailers and should remain so for at least a decade
  • Banco do Brasil votes to Remain: South America’s biggest bank, Banco do Brasil, which has been in London since 1971, issued a statement saying, “The Banco do Brasil is monitoring closely the decisions about the UK’s exit from the European Union, but is not considering interrupting its activities in London and does not see any significant impact on its operations in the region.”
  • Brazilian market for smart grids and solar energy could be up to US$29 billion by 2025: Reports prepared by consultants Carbon Trust were presented in London by Apex-Brazil (Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency) showing that opportunities in Brazil for smart grid technologies and solar energy could be in the range of US$22 to US$29 billion by the year 2025
  • The Rio Olympics could generate insurance premiums of up to £600 million:Margo Black, CEO of Swiss Re Brazil, and past Board Member ofBritcham Brazil, says that Swiss Re and Munich Re have provided stop loss cover on TV broadcasts for the Games. Willis Towers Watson has written policies of up to US$30 milion for companies with executives involved in the Rio Games with respect to terrorist attacks. Alvaro Igrejas, Willis Towers Watson Director of Corporate Risks says, “There has not been an accentuated demand for this cover in Brazil given the country’s reputation for being peaceful.”
  • Government postpones decision to permit extended foreign shareholding in Brazilian airlines: In the face of opposition by Congress, the Government decided to maintain the limit on foreign investment in Brazilian airlines at 20% instead of removing all restrictions. However, other urgent air transport measures providing relief to the beleaguered sector are to be approved. A removal of restrictions against foreign investment in the sector may now be addressed as a separate bill in the future. according to Ana Cândida Carvalho, partner of the Tozzini Freire Law Firm and aviation specialist, “It is necessary to make the Brazilian airline market more attractive to foreign investment”. She affirmed that much of the current regulations is so weighted towards consumer protection that it is not possible for consumers to obtain the benefits of low cost airlines. A Bain & Co study shows that the Brazilian operations of a low cost airline such as Ryanair would be 27% higher than in Europe. In a visit to Argentina, Declan Ryan, CEO of Ryanair, declared in connection with their new routes in Latin America “We have started negotiations in all countries in the region except Brazil, as there is too much corruption there”
  • Federal Government changes Power sector rules to attract investors: On the day that the Government published the offer documents for the privatisation of power distributor CELG D, it also changed the rules for the power sector in an attempt to make this privatisation, and others to come, more attractive to investors. The minimum bid price for CELG D is around £560 million

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