Brazil’s economy seems to have turned the tide on a near two-year recession by posting growth of between 0.7 per cent and 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

This growth is in stark contrast to the end of last year when Latin America’s largest economy shrank by 0.9 per cent – its eighth straight quarter of retreat.

The boost to the economy can in part be attributed to the recent strong performance of Brazil’s agricultural sector, which is expected to harvest record crops. Nowhere is success more evident than in the forestry sector, making it a prime time to invest.

In the years since the recession began, the economy contracted 3.6 per cent and 3.9 per cent, and unemployment hit a record 13.7 per cent with more than 14 million Brazilians looking for work.

Henrique Meirelles has named Brazil’s costly social security system as the main cause of the budget deficit, and insisted that reforming it would create jobs and boost growth, despite its unpopularity.

For example, changes to the pension system which will extend the number of years Brazilians must work to retire on full benefits, are opposed by 71 per cent of those surveyed by pollster Datafolha.

Pension reform is a contentious issue in Brazil, which has one of the world’s most generous social security systems, allowing retirement on average at the age of 54 with almost full benefits, compared with 72 years in Mexico.

The government coalition is currently trying to secure votes in favour of over-hauling its existing social security system. They’ve delayed a vote in the full house to buy them more time to muster the 308 votes needed.

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Guidelines for issuing green bonds in Brazil have been named initiative of the year by a respected environmental investment website.

Environmental Finance’s Green Bond Awards 2017 heaped praise on Brazil’s green bonds system, noting that since the guidelines were issued, the number of Brazilian green bonds issued has more than doubled.

Green bonds are debt instruments where money is used to fund green investments, such as in forestry, water, waste management, energy efficiency, land use and infrastructure.

Brazil’s guidelines, first issued in October 2016, were designed to “mobilise investment” in projects with positive environmental and climate characteristics and drive growth of green bonds in a fast-growing international investment market.

That same year, Brazil’s green bond market reached nearly $3 billion, according to Environmental Finance.

Awarding Brazil’s Green Bond Guidelines with Initiative of the Year, experts said they had helped “galvanise the concept” of the green bond market, as well as “eliminate confusion” among potential issuers, underwriters and investors.

Before the guidelines were issued, Brazil had issued just two green bonds, but since they came out, that number has more than doubled and is expected to “grow considerably” through 2017.

Brazil’s banking federation Febraban, which co-developed the guidelines alongside the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development, said it expected Brazil to exit recession this year, pointing to a new emphasis on collaboration between the government and private sector, which will be of benefit to the green bond market.

“This year, our hope is to start a new cycle of development,” said Mario Sergio Fernandes de Vasconcelor, director of institutional relations at Febraban.

“So there is a tremendous effort between government and private initiatives to open the market and financial sector to infrastructure, green finance project and green bonds.”

The guidelines also identify forestry and agribusiness as two areas where Brazil has “strong potential”, thanks to its low-carbon agriculture plan, which aims to recover 15 million hectares of degraded pasture by 2020.

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The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is considering ways in which it could help countries to reach their climate change commitments through investments in forestry.

Participants from developing and developed countries took part in a “ground-breaking” workshop in Bali where they brainstormed how the GCF could make the most of progress in developing countries to address climate change by protecting their forests.

The workshop discussions explored funding opportunities, but also helped to spread knowledge about the initiative REDD+.

REDD+, a programme works to reduce emissions from deforestation and promote conversation and sustainability, refers to a UN-moderated process which gives developing countries money for “achieving emissions reductions from deforestation and forest degradation and to conserve and enhance carbon sinks”.

Yolando Velasco, a climate finance and capacity building manager with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, highlighted how the workshop provided clarity on issues surrounding REDD+ finance, and pointed to the key role REDD+ is now playing globally in the new landscape of climate cooperation under the Paris Agreement, both in terms of financing and more general advice.

However, as well as the positive response to the workshop, some worried that there was a lack of funding in the REDD+ scheme. Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, who works in the Prime Minister’s office of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and who is also a GCF board member and GCF REDD+ champion, said: “A lack of funding certainty is a killer when it comes to REDD+.”

“If we don’t have certainty, how can we embark on a long-term endeavour such as REDD+, when there are other development areas demanding attention such as health, infrastructure and security?”

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China’s investments in Brazilian export products – including forestry, other agribusiness and food – have increased significantly over the past decade, new research suggests.

The latest edition of the Panorama Internacional of the Foundation of Economics and Statistics (FEE) shows that Chinese investment in Brazilian exports totalled $51.7 billion between the years 2005 and 2016, reports.

In their report researchers Sergio Leusin Jr and Robson Valdez outlined the relationship between the Latin American and Asian “giants”, noting how China has become Brazil’s lead partner in agribusiness exports as the world’s number one exporter of rice and tobacco.

China, too, is the second largest producer of wheat and corn and the fourth largest in soy. Brazil is the world’s second largest producer of soy, after the US.

“Since 1974, when Brazil relaunched its diplomatic relations with the Popular Republic of China, the Asian country became the principal destination of Brazil’s exports, competing with the European Union, Latin America, and the Caribbean,” Valdez commented.

What’s more, Leusin said Brazil’s public and private agribusiness sectors must pay attention to China’s economy. The country could well learn important lessons for growing its economy by looking at China’s example of guaranteeing its food security and self-sufficiency over the years.

“Brazil, an indispensable commercial partner for China, needs to have a profound knowledge of the rural reality of the Asian country,” said Leusin. China’s mistakes will lead to Brazil’s advantages, the researcher added.

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The success of the forestry market in Scotland and north-east England is creating strong demand for marginal farmland for the creation of woodland.

According to Farmers Weekly, investors are paying premiums above land’s agricultural value in a bid to find suitable land for woodland creation, with sheep units often considered strong options.

In fact, Jamie Adamson, Savills’ head of forestry investment, has stated that the market for agricultural land in Scotland is “one of the most buoyant” sectors in 2016.

Adamson added that many investors were avoiding mountainous terrain and prime arable or grassland in favour of upland farms that were suitable for woodland growth. Location was reportedly also considered important, but any land physically plantable generated significant interest among investors.

“Land within conservation designations are often not viable, and planting on deep peat soils is prohibited – those issues are considered show stoppers,” he added. “Other barriers can be site specific such as access, geology, soil type, surrounding forestry and proximity to mills, which can affect how attractive the land is.”

Chris Edmunds, director at Davidson & Robertson Rural, also highlighted the rise in the amount of land being sold to forestry investors in Northumberland, stating that middle hill land was particularly viable.

“If land can be planted then it is underpinning land values and usually [achieving] over and above agricultural value,” he said.

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Climate change offers a huge opportunity to attract funds into low-carbon investments and sustainable forestry, create jobs and boost economic growth, according to experts.

However, in spite of trillions of dollars that could potentially be made available for climate investments and the success of poorer countries such as India in sustainable energy schemes, it will be a major challenge to ensure the world’s poorest benefit from these opportunities, a World Bank meeting heard last week.

Speaking at the discussion, former US Vice President Al Gore stated that climate change could offer the biggest opportunity in the history of the world, but argued world powers need both a clear vision and policy leadership to ensure the world community was brought together in seeking the finance needed to tackle the issue.

Gore, who added that the United States was more than 50 per cent likely to remain in the Paris climate change agreement, said: “What the world needs is the vision that the solution to our global economic malaise is precisely the solution to the climate crisis.”

Commenting on the issue of finance, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stated that financing climate action and sustainable energy could be the ideal target for $8.5 trillion in negative interest bonds, $24.5 trillion in low-yielding government-type bonds and around $8 trillion in cash. However, he mirrored calls for a clear strategy for distributing investment.

“Quite apart from what you think about climate change, there are opportunities for investments that will give you higher yield than any of those investments in which over $40 trillion is sitting right now,” Kim said.

Addressing the issue of ensuring the poor also benefit from climate change and sustainable forestry investment, he added: “The poor say we have the boot of climate change on our necks every day. We cannot forget the social justice element of climate action.”

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Sequestering carbon dioxide is only one of the crucial climate solutions inherent to the world’s forests, according to a new study that revealed forest conservation may be more important than first thought.

Experts have long stated that deforestation can lead to both increased direct emissions and the removal of a valuable carbon sponge, but a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests the world’s scientists may be underestimating the extent to which forest conservation can help to curb rising global temperatures.

Trees were also found to be a crucial regulating factor in the cycle of water and heat exchange between the surface of the Earth and the atmosphere, suggesting that they play a vital role in regulating climates and temperatures.

Kaiguang Zhao, an assistant professor of environment modelling and spatial analysis at The Ohio State University and a co-author of the study, confirmed in a statement that forests are playing a more important role in the cooling of the Earth than was previously thought. “This really affirms the value of forest conservation and protection policies in the fight against climate change,” Zhao said.

The researchers added in the study: “We find that forest cover gains lead to an annual cooling in all regions south of the upper conterminous United States, northern Europe, and Siberia — reinforcing the attractiveness of re-/afforestation as a local mitigation and adaptation measure in these regions.”

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Forest management officials in Vietnam has announced the country’s aim to increase nationwide forest coverage to 42 per cent by the year 2020, and 45 per cent by 2030.

The targets are set to be introduced as part of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programme, which has recently been approved by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc to run from 2017 to 2030 with a focus on the conservation of forests, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

According to the prime minister, the programme will be focused on areas of the country hit by deforestation and forest degradation, with the ultimate goal of reducing emissions and increasing forest coverage.

The government has also announced a secondary aim of stabilising the country’s natural forest acreage between 2021 and 2030, which it hopes will contribute to a new target of reducing emissions by eight per cent.

To support Vietnam’s goal, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will reportedly adjust planning for forest usage to ensure the country hits the target of 16.2 million hectares of agricultural land in 2020 and boost forest law enforcement.

Following the launch of an agricultural restructure project four years ago, the ministry has already reported positive results across the country. In fact, figures show that forest coverage has increased from 39.7 per cent in 2011 to 40.84 per cent in 2015.

Forestry production value has also risen significantly, reaching an average growth level of 6.57 per cent a year, compared to just 5.03 per cent during 2010-12, the ministry revealed.

Three tasks are now ready embraced by the government as it pushes to continue this success, including environmental protection, improving forest productivity and quality, and increasing the competitiveness of forestry products around Vietnam.

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More than 18,300 hectares of forestry were sold across UK last year at a total value of £83 million, marking the best period for the sector since the 1980s, according to a new industry report.

Speaking at the launch of a report published by Savills and Scottish Woodlands, Savills’ head of forestry investment James Adamson stated that the data signals the prospect of a long-term upward trend in timber pricing, making the industry confident in the future of forestry as an asset.

“High-yield class, well-managed commercial spruce forests with good access to timber markets will remain in strong demand, and offer an excellent long term investment option,” Mr Adamson said. “Looking towards a post-Brexit-world, a revision of EU timber trade regulations could enable UK forest products to be used more widely in construction.”

According to Mr Adamson, the research also revealed that plantation values will increase over the medium term, with a growth in forest values of 32 per cent expected over the next five years.

Scottish Woodlands business development manager David Robertson added that Scottish government policy is increasingly geared towards the benefit of woodland, with Scottish Parliament increasing its tree planting target for 2025 from 22 million to 33 million trees per year. This equates to a rise from 10,000 to 15,000 hectares of forestry land, with grant funding boosted from £36 to £40 million in 2017/18.

“In addition, a £19 million Carbon Woodland Fund has been announced in England aimed at increasing planting of woodlands to contribute to the Westminster target of 11 million trees in the lifetime of the 2015-20 parliament,” Mr Robertson added. “In summary, we are potentially witnessing the best period for forestry expansion since the 1970s and 80s, supported by Government policy on both sides of the border.”

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Brazil has the largest biodiversity of tree species in the world, according to new data from Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).

New figures released by the organisation have revealed that Brazil is home to 14 per cent of the world’s tree species, with global numbers found to have reached 60,065 species.

Colombia was found to have the second highest number of species, with 5,776 living across the country, while Indonesia came in third with 5,142 species.

The study, published by BGCI in its Journal of Sustainable Forestry, used a network of 50 botanical gardens across the globe to collect the data, registering a total of 375,500 tree registrations in over two years.

According to the group, the aim of the study was to both identify the world’s rare tree species and to prompt awareness in a bid to prevent their extinction. Currently, more than 300 species have been classed as being under threat of extinction, having just 50 or less of its kind living in nature.

In fact, the research found that 58 per cent of tree species are found in just one country, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change and deforestation if not properly managed by environmentally aware businesses and traders.

Despite the concerns raised by the data, the BGCI also revealed that conservationists discover around 20,000 new trees each year. To ensure all countries can keep up with efforts to conserve all of the new (and more established) species, the BGCI has launched online database GlobalTreeSearch, while is updated with all new tree species as soon as they are recognised.

BGCI secretary general Paul Smith commented: “A lot of the data is not readily available to the public. The digitisation of this data, in effect, is the culmination of centuries of work.”

“Getting location information, such as which countries do these trees occur in, gives us key information for conservation purposes.”

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A Brazilian government programme created to distribute land to thousands of small-scale farmers is successfully helping the country to protect its forests, research has revealed.

Launched in 2009, the Legal Land Programme has reportedly distributed more than 20,000 property title deeds to farmers living within the Amazon rainforest, with data showing areas where the title deeds were distributed have two per cent more forest left intact when compared to those without titles.

“The programme is an effective way to reduce deforestation,” said Dimitri Szerman, a senior analyst with the Climate Policy Initiative research group in Rio de Janeiro. “There is no silver bullet on deforestation. Two per cent is actually an aggressive result.”

The push for the success of the programme was prompted by recent deforestation figures, which rose by 29 per cent last year following years of decline, according to Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE).

Analysts have suggested that the sudden rise was fuelled by a lack of property rights, with vacant lands and public areas making up more than one-fifth of Brazil’s total area.

According to Szerman, these lands are often illegally occupied by individuals or investors who are willing to ignore deforestation regulations. “In the long-term you need to solve the problem of property rights to bring down deforestation,” he said.

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The Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has announced that it is pushing for the full implementation of a forest conservation strategy aimed at helping to reduce the impact of climate change across the country.

DENR’s Forest Management Bureau (FMB), which is working alongside the German government’s Environment Ministry, is reportedly aiming to implement the global Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) strategy to help to reduce the impact of climate change by protecting and sustainably managing forests countrywide.

The DENR-FMB and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the latter being the German government’s international development cooperation agency, have worked side by side to promote the sustainable management of forests through the joint project “Preparation of a National REDD+ Mechanism for Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Conservation of Biodiversity in the Philippines” or the National REDD+ System Philippines, according to the government. The groups revealed that the ultimate aim is to create a national REDD+ network across the Philippines while taking into account ecological, social and governance safeguards that need to be in place.

The global REDD+ climate change strategy is a strong contributor to the conservation of forests, data shows, and specifically helps the Philippines to meet 40 per cent of its 70 per cent carbon emission reduction target, which was committed to by the country’s government as part of the United Nations Paris climate conference in 2015.

Trees have been a particular target in the push for climate change as they sequester carbon from the atmosphere, which can significantly lower the global temperature. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the global forestry sector was the second leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity in 2007, after the energy sector. These statistics mean the forestry industry accounts for roughly 17 of emissions due, in part, to large scale deforestation.

So far, the currently successful project being conducted by GIX and the FMB has removed around 467,000 tons of carbon dioxide across three areas, with much of this success prompted by co-management with local communities and indigenous people. Aimed at long-term fostering forest conservation, these tenure arrangements have been integrated into a forest land use plan that covers more than 366,000 hectares of forests in the Philippines.

To support forest conservation activities and help to boost their success, around P24.3 million has been donated through around 18 contracts with local partners, including small government units, academe and the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

The FMB and GIZ have announced that they are organising the REDD+ project closing event on in April 2017 to mark the project’s achievements so far and to encourage even more support to enable it to continue in the future. The event will also allow for the issuance of appropriate laws and policies for the country’s full REDD+ implementation, which is expected to take place at some point in the coming years.

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El Salvador, considered the most deforested country in central America, has voted against mining activity, it has been revealed.

Communities located around the Cinquera Forest Ecological Park, which spans 5,001 hectares (19 square miles), have taken it upon themselves to protect the forests in the area, most recently taking to the polls in a municipal referendum and voting to ban all metallic mining activities.

“Due to demographics, even just because of that, there’s more pressure on natural resources,” Angel Ibarra, the country’s vice minister of the environment and natural resources, said. “We have a lower percentage of forest and vegetation cover than the other [Central American] countries.”

According to Global Forest Watch, the country lost 6.2 per cent of its tree cover between 2001 and 2015, with tree cover loss in the Cabañas department, where Cinquera is located, was 8.6 per cent during the same time period. Only two percent of the nation’s existing forests are primary forest, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“But the important thing about this issue of deforestation, which is linked to the loss of biodiversity, linked to the loss of soil fertility, and linked to unsustainable farming practices and more, is starting to be tackled by the state,” Ibarra added.

Ibarra and other high-level officials attended Cinquera to support a referendum on mining. Due, in part, to the country’s small size and environmental challenges, the government has a moratorium suspending all administrative actions regarding mining, and do not grant any new permits or licenses.

San Salvador Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas has since led a march to the legislative assembly, calling on lawmakers to pass a bill permanently banning metallic mining in the country. FMLN legislator Guillermo Mata has since announced that the legislative assembly’s multi-partisan environmental committee had approved the text of a law banning metallic mining, with the bill set to go to the floor for a vote this week, according to Mata.

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Brazil has invited Turkish oil and gas companies to invest in the country’s energy sector as it begins a revitalisation process due to continue throughout 2017 and 2018.

According to Milton Cosa Filho, of the Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute (OBP), the country has now developed the technology to extract fossil fuels located as far as 300km offshore in “ultra-deep”waters.

“I think that 90 percent of the oil and gas production in Brazil comes from offshore. Brazil is doing a good job, but we need to transform our industry and we need to attract companies to invest in Brazil,” Mr Filho said.

Brazil has revealed that any investments made over the next two years will be operated under frameworks currently being overhauled by Brazilian regulatory agencies.

According to official data, more than half of the $150 billion in investments due to take place over the next four years tracked by the National Development Bank will be made within the oil and gas sectors. Mr Filho stated that some of the sectors requiring the most significant investments include logistics, infrastructure, terminals and pipes.

He added: “In 2017, we are going to have four bid rounds and in 2018 we will have three bid rounds. We are going to need lots of construction companies, and this is a good opportunity. Now is the perfect time to jump into the Brazilian market.”

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Brazil is set to partner with Mexico in a possible deal focused on the trade of yellow corn, as uncertainty surrounding the future renegotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) persists.

According to Jose Calzada, Mexican Agriculture Secretary, the country is currently unclear about whether the United States will propose the continued trade of corn between the US and Mexico, which is currently the former’s biggest corn buyer.

“We do not know what the United States will propose for NAFTA and we have to anticipate so that when we get to the negotiating table we will be certain that we are starting from a position of strength,” he said.

In Mexico’s Congress, Senator Armando Ríos Piter has also proposed that a new deal with Brazil, as well as its fellow South American country Argentina, would gradually reduce dependence on the United States, regardless of the outcome of NAFTA.

“Perhaps corn producers were being deceived by Donald Trump saying that Mexico is the only nation that benefits from NAFTA, because once they take note of the magnitude of the problem, they have a different opinion,” he said.

Yellow corn is currently one of the products Mexico imports from the United States in the most significant quantities, and is currently only surpassed by gasoline, diesel and natural gas.

In 2016, Mexican imports of yellow corn from the United States reached over $2.3 billion, or 10.36% more than in 2015, according to data from the Mexican Ministry of Economy. However, imports from Argentina were only $17.7 million and imports from Brazil were only $10 million in the same period, suggesting there is plenty of room for growth should Mexico transfer its trade interests to South America.

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Dozens of global investors representing more than $617 billion in assets under management are insisting that companies take a “zero deforestation” approach across Brazil and the rest of Latin America to help combat the effects of climate change.

According to Green Century Capital Management, a firm representing the investors, thirty-nine individuals and organisations have joined together to urge companies to adopt a similar policy to Latin America’s soy moratorium, which helped to reduce deforestation across the Amazon rainforest by two-thirds.

Commenting on the move, Kate Kroll, who coordinates the management firm’s forest protection campaign, has stated corporations that source food from areas where large chunks of land have been cleared of forests face risking their reputation.

“Companies are increasingly concerned about this issues. They’re looking to decouple their supply chains from deforestation,” Ms Kroll said in an interview. “The market has punished non-compliant actors.”

“If companies fail to protect themselves (from exposure to deforestation) then their brand may be damaged significantly,” she added.

According to Green Century, forest destruction accounts for almost the same level of global greenhouse gas emissions as the international transportation sector. However, Kroll added that food companies could gain both an increased reputation and boost returns for investors by increasing production on previously deforested land rather than cutting down additional trees across Latin America.

In Brazil, the country that holds the world’s largest tropical forests, deforestation rates have increased since 2015 following years of falling, increasing pressure on companies to improve their approach to ethical agriculture.

Experts have credited some of the previous success to the soy moratorium, and Ms Kroll has suggested that expanding it into northeastern Brazil could be an effective tool in preventing further losses to forests around the country.

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Speaking in a meeting with ambassadors, Brazilian President Michel Temer has reassured representatives of importing countries of the quality of Brazilian meat following a recent corruption probe.

President Temer told diplomats that the Brazilian government hopes to rebuild confidence in its agriculture industry following enquiries from the European Union and China, who expressed concern for operations

One of the world’s leading meat producers, Brazil faced significant controversy when it was revealed that inspectors at the Agriculture Ministry are being investigated for taking bribes to overlook the use of chemicals to improve both the appearance and look of expired meat.

In a bid to reduce concerns, the president revealed that only 33 of 11,000 of the inspectors were found to be corrupt following an investigation by the Federal Police.

Temer added that Brazilian agricultural goods have succeeding in winning the approval of consumers across the world in terms of both agricultural inspection and defence. He said: “The federal government wants to reiterate its confidence in the quality of our national product.”

Speaking at the presidential palace, he added: “This standard of excellence is that over time it has opened the doors of more than 150 countries, with permanent audit, monitoring and risk assessment.”

According to the president, the government will also create a task force with the aim of speeding up the investigation of any meat production plants targeted in the police operation.

Meanwhile, Temer told the visiting ambassadors that the Brazilian Agricultural Ministry is set to release a lost of all countries that may have been affected by the scandal, as well as the name of the meatpackers responsible for the issues.

Adding to President Temer’s comments, Minister Blairo Maggi said: “Whoever is to blame will answer for the problems. We can not accept that the great majority of the companies and servers that make up this great business that is Brazilian agriculture are put in check by few people.”

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Representatives of some of Brazil’s key industries, including forestry, think the country has “extremely positive” growth prospects for 2017 thanks to proactive measures taken by the federal government.

During a meeting with Brazil President Michel Temer this week, industry figures including Joao Henrique de Almeida Sousa, the president of the SESI National Council, think Brazil will enter growth in the months to come.

The Latin American economy is in one of its worst recessions in living memory but a number of stimulative measures taken by the federal government are believed to be providing the antidote.

The meeting with Mr Temer at the Presidential Palace included de Almeida Sousa, Roberto Braga de Andrade, the President of the National Confederation of Industry and heads of state-level industry groups.

Discussing infrastructure, economic measures and local demands of different stakeholders, the industry representatives said measures including labour and pension reforms would be “essential” to the start of growth in Brazil.

“The measures President Michel Temer has been taking throughout his administration will certainly yield very positive results for our industry, and consequently to Brazil,” the SESI president said.

The meeting was the fifth in a series being held between Temer and business figures at state level. At this discussion, four states were represented: Rondonia, Roraima, Mato Grosso and Tocantins. Two more meetings are set to be held in due course, giving business representatives from all over the country the opportunity to speak to the President.

Brazil’s transport system was also discussed at the meeting, particularly the state of the country’s highways.

“The businesspeople [coming to the meetings] can highlight state-level infrastructure issues that need to be addressed in order to foster development,” said the SSI president.

“These meetings have been very productive. They are a good opportunity for businesspeople, who can hear directly from the President of the Republic what he is doing for Brazil.”

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Brazil is in recession but the country’s agriculture sector is powering ahead, adding R$52.9 billion to the economy in the final quarter of 2016 – the best result since the first three months of 2015, in positive news for forestry investment.

Figures from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) show that Brazil’s agricultural GDP grew by one per cent between the fourth and third quarters of last year.

Brazil’s government said the positive boost is a result of increased production and job creation in the agri sector as farmers prepare for 2017’s ‘super harvest’. Release of funds from federal funding programmes has also allowed landowners to buy machinery.

“The latest numbers in agriculture, drawn by the prospect of a new record harvest and increased exports, produced a record GDP for the fourth quarter,” the government said.

“Only between October and December, the agriculture sector generated R$52.9 billion in wealth for the country.”

However, overall, Brazil still ended 2016 with a decline in GDP for the second year running. Both the agriculture sector and the country as a whole ended the year in the red, with 6.6 per cent and 3.6 per cent decreases respectively.

But looking ahead to the rest of 2017 and the outlook is more positive. Assessments from Brazil’s financial experts, reported in a survey released by the country’s Central Bank, suggest agricultural GDP is expected to grow over the next few years: by 3.20 per cent in 2018, three per cent in 2019 and three per cent in 2020.

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Brazil is to invest $200 million in its technology sector as it seeks to grow its semiconductor base and create more than 1,000 new tech jobs.

In a sign of renewed optimism for Brazil’s economy, the federal government is to partner with foreign technology businesses to construct a high-tech semiconductor chip plant and train the next generation of Brazil’s engineers.

Brazil’s president Michel Temer said the agreement represents the “resumption of economic growth” for the Latin America economy.

Under the four-year deal, the government and foreign firms including tech giants Qualcomm and ASE will work to create the “legal and structural conditions required” for the development of a high-complexity semiconductor industry in Brazil.

The new plant, set to be built in Campinas, south-east of Brazil, will manufacture chips that will be used in 4G and 5G smartphones and internet of things (IoT) devices.

Temer said the investment should generate more than 1,200 jobs. “This agreement is particularly important at this time, as the economy starts breathing again and Brazil is in need of investments.

“We will enter a phase of economic growth and upturn in employment,” he said.

Qualcomm and ASE will help train Brazilian engineers, bringing professionals from their own factories to encourage skills and knowledge sharing.

“As the world’s leading company in integrated circuit assembly and testing, we are excited about the opportunity to expand our presence in Brazil and generate value for the Brazilian high-tech industry through the development and manufacturing of our advanced System-in-Packaging (SiP) technology,” said ASE director of operations Tien Wu.

The agreement was signed at the Presidential Palace by the Ministries of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC) and Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC), the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and the São Paulo Investment Promotion Agency (Investe SP).

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