Agribusiness sustains export growth during crisis – News


In just over three months of the global crisis caused by the new coronavirus, agribusiness is the sector that presents the best results in Brazil, sustaining a good part of the sales of goods to other countries.

From February to April, product exports in general totaled US $ 52.822 billion, according to data from the Foreign Trade Secretariat (Secex) of the Ministry of Economy. Sales of soybeans and derivatives and meats alone – two of the main items on the Brazilian agenda – totaled US $ 16.438 billion in the period, about one third of the total.

Sales of soybeans and derivatives and meats in the February interval – when the effects of covid-19 on global trade intensified – to April showed an increase of 24% over the same period last year. In comparison, exports in general rose by just 0.7% in the period.

For economist Simão Davi Silber, doctor of International Economics and professor at the University of São Paulo (USP), the positive performance of agribusiness, even in the global crisis, has a simple explanation. “The first need is to ‘eat’. And, for protein, Brazil is fundamental”, he says.

Asian countries are Brazil’s main customers. With a population of more than 1.4 billion people, China, Hong Kong and Macau bought the equivalent of US $ 17.734 billion in Brazilian goods from February to April – most of the agricultural sector. Of every US $ 100 in sales made by the country, a third (US $ 33.57) went to the region.

This scenario makes the sector appear as a kind of “bonanza island” in Brazil, amid the economic downturn in the pandemic. Data from the Central Bank’s Focus report show that market economists currently forecast a 5.12% GDP decline in 2020. While services GDP – heavily affected by social isolation – is expected to plummet 4%, agricultural GDP may fall increase 2.48%, according to economists’ projections.

“It is possible that the drop in GDP in Brazil is less because of agricultural GDP”, comments economist Vitoria Saddi, professor at Insper in São Paulo. With the experience of having worked in international institutions such as JP Morgan and Citibank, Saddi believes that global trade after the pandemic may bring opportunities to Brazil.

“In times of deep crisis, such as that of the 1870s in the USA (the Panic of 1873) or the Great Depression (started in 1929), the world tends to close”, warns the economist. “It is almost like a by-product of the crisis to close trade in the world.”

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