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Surge in Trade Sees China Top League of Brazil's 2017 Export Markets

Growing demand for soybean, crude oil, beef and iron imports boosts ongoing China-Brazil trading relationship.

Photo: Mainland-bound: 34.1% surge in Brazilian imports transforms trading landscape. (Shutterstock.com)
Mainland-bound: 34.1% surge in Brazilian imports transforms trading landscape.
Photo: Mainland-bound: 34.1% surge in Brazilian imports transforms trading landscape. (Shutterstock.com)
Mainland-bound: 34.1% surge in Brazilian imports transforms trading landscape.

China is now the largest market for Brazilian exports. Although almost 17,000km distant, the mainland has now eclipsed all of Brazil's traditional export destinations – including the EU, the US and the neighbouring Latin American economies – to become the country's key global trading partner.

From January to September 2017, the value of Brazil's exports to China exceeded US$40 billion, well above the $25.8 billion worth of goods shipped to the whole of the EU in the same period. The figures come as Brazil-China trade surged by 34.1% year-on-year, with Brazil typically exporting an average of $213 million worth of goods to China every day.

Overall, this massive surge in exports to China was not driven solely by increased demand for one particular commodity. Instead, there was notable growth in the import level of several product categories, including soybeans, crude oil, iron ore, beef, cellulose and manganese ore.

This dramatic uptick took China's share of Brazil's total exports to 24.3% for the first three quarters of 2017, notably up from the 1.5% recorded over the same period last year. According to the data, as validated by the Brazilian Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC), no other single country or combined trading block came anywhere close to competing with China as the lead importer of Brazilian products.

Even the combined import figures for the whole of Europe over the same period pale by comparison. In total, Europe was in receipt of $30.7 billion worth of Brazilian goods in the first nine months of 2017, with $25.8 billion of that destined for one of the 28 countries that constitute the EU.

Brazil's total exports to neighbouring Latin America were about $26 billion in the same period, with the four other full members (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela) and the seven associate members (Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname) of the Mercosur free trade block accounting for $17 billion of that.

Led by the US, as the second-largest individual importer of Brazilian products overall, North America was the export destination for $25.3 billion worth of the country's goods in the first three quarters of 2017, of which $20 billion was ultimately destined for the US market.

Table: Primary destinations of Brazilian exports (January-September 2017)
Table: Primary destinations of Brazilian exports (January-September 2017)

Marcia Takemiya, Sao Paulo Consultant

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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