The largest country by population and land area within both South America and Latin America, Brazil shipped an estimated $224 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -6.6% decline year over year from 2018 but a 17.2% expansion since 2015.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Brazilian real has depreciated by -18% against the US dollar since 2015 and eroded by -7.5% from 2018 to 2019. Brazil’s weaker local currency make Brazilian exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
From a continental perspective, 47.1% of Brazilian exports by value in 2019 arrived in Asian countries while 17.9% was sold to European importers. Brazil shipped another 16.9% worth of goods to North American clients. Brazilian exports to Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus Caribbean nations totaled 14.3% with roughly 3.4% delivered to Africa and just 0.4% going to Oceania led by Australia and Marshall Islands.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 65.4% of products exported from Brazil were bought by importers in: China (28.1% of the global total), United States (13.3%), Netherlands (4.5%), Argentina (4.3%), Japan (2.4%), Chile (2.3%), Mexico (2.2%), Germany (2.1%), Spain (1.8%), South Korea (1.5%), Canada (1.5%) and Belgium (1.4%).
Given Brazil’s population of 210 million people, its total $224 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $1,070 for every resident in South America’s leading economy.
Brazil’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Brazilian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Brazil.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$30 billion (13.4% of total exports)
- Oil seeds: $26.5 billion (11.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $25.3 billion (11.3%)
- Meat: $15.2 billion (6.8%)
- Machinery including computers: $12.5 billion (5.6%)
- Iron, steel: $10.9 billion (4.9%)
- Vehicles: $9.2 billion (4.1%)
- Cereals: $7.9 billion (3.5%)
- Woodpulp: $7.5 billion (3.3%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $6.3 billion (2.8%)
Brazil’s top 10 exports accounted for just over two-thirds (67.5%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Cereals was the fastest-growing export category via its 71.3% increase from 2018 led by improved international revenues from corn and wheat. In second place was Brazil’s exports of meat resulting in a 14% gain, trailed by Brazilian shipments under the ores, slag and ash category (up 6.7%) then exported mineral fuels including oil (up 1.2%).
Leading decliners among Brazil’s top 10 export categories were its vehicles (down -27.5%), oil seeds (down -21.1%) and machinery including computers (down -15.7%).
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Brazil’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.
Overall, Brazil achieved a $46.7 billion trade surplus during 2019 down by -20.5% from its $58.7 billion positive trade balance one year earlier.
The following types of Brazilian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Oil seeds: US$26.2 billion (Down by -21.2% since 2018)
- Ores, slag, ash: $24.1 billion (Up by 6.8%)
- Meat: $14.9 billion (Up by 14.5%)
- Iron, steel: $8.7 billion (Down by -6.8%)
- Woodpulp: $7.3 billion (Down by -10.7%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $6.1 billion (Up by 76.9%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $6 billion (Down by -12.6%)
- Cereals: $5.8 billion (Up by 122.7%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $5.3 billion (Down by -19.2%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $4.7 billion (Up by 3.4%)
Brazil has highly positive net exports in the international trade of oil seeds which is often used for vegetable oil and related products. In turn, these cashflows indicate Brazil’s strong competitive advantages under the oil seed product category.
Below are exports from Brazil that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Brazil’s goods trail Brazilian importer spending on foreign products.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$18.7 billion (Up by 1.9% since 2018)
- Fertilizers: -$9 billion (Up by 7%)
- Organic chemicals: -$8.9 billion (Up by 7%)
- Machinery including computers: -$8.8 billion (Up by 105.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$6.1 billion (Up by 1.7%)
- Other chemical goods: -$4.4 billion (Up by 12.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$4.3 billion (Up by 10.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$4.3 billion (Down by -4.5%)
- Vehicles: -$3.1 billion (Up by 122.7%)
- Other base metal goods: -$2.8 billion (Up by 834.1%)
Brazil has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for assembled electronic equipment. That loss-leader category encompasses consumer electronics.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Brazil’s competitive disadvantages in the international electronics market, but also represent key opportunities for Brazil to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Brazilian Export Companies
Twenty-five Brazilian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Brazilian companies that Forbes included:
- Braskem (specialized chemicals)
- BRF-Brasil Foods (food processing)
- Cosan (food processing)
- CSN (iron, steel)
- Embraer (aerospace)
- Itaúsa (industrials conglomerate)
- JBS (food processing)
- Metalurgica Gerdau (iron, steel)
- Petrobras (oil, gas)
- Vale (iron, steel)
- WEG (electrical equipment)
Wikipedia lists many of the larger international trade players from Brazil, plus:
- Grupo Pão de Açúcar (retail including online)
- Oi (telecommunications)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of Brazilian exporters:
- Afil Import Export E Comercio (garlic, flaxseed, corn)
- American Safety Razor Brazil (razor blades, adipic acid)
- Hapag Lloyd Brazil (containers, siliceous earths, white cement)
- Inergy Automotive Systems Do Brazil (combustion engine internal pumps, gas station external pumps)
- Vanguard Logistics Services Do Brazil (transmission belts, rubber/plastic molds, malt beer)
Searchable List of Brazil’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Brazil during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||Brazilian Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|3||Iron ores, concentrates||$20,215,662,000||+9.7%|
|5||Chemical wood pulp, soda or sulphate (excluding dissolving grades)||$7,956,098,000||-9.9%|
|7||Soya-bean oil-cake, other solid residues||$6,697,347,000||-13%|
|8||Processed petroleum oils||$4,183,549,000||+38.4%|
|10||Sugar (cane or beet)||$6,525,778,000||-19.6%|
|16||Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)||$3,866,896,000||-18.3%|
|17||Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks||$5,739,198,000||-50.9%|
|19||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$1,587,344,000||+66.2%|
|20||Copper ores, concentrates||$2,640,445,000||-14.6%|
|21||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$2,582,111,000||-12.8%|
|22||Fruit and vegetable juices||$2,352,227,000||-10.3%|
|24||Unmanufactured tobacco, tobacco waste||$1,894,445,000||+7.9%|
|28||Piston engine parts||$1,408,679,000||-8.7%|
|29||Rubber tires (new)||$1,134,837,000||+1.7%|
|30||Flexible base metal tubing||$1,076,422,000||-2.1%|
|31||Alloy steel ingots||$1,177,958,000||-13.2%|
|34||Fresh or chilled beef||$899,278,000||-2.1%|
|35||Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)||$886,747,000||-1%|
|36||Medication mixes in dosage||$850,185,000||+0.2%|
|38||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$803,059,000||+1%|
|40||Monument/building stones, art||$720,433,000||+5.5%|
|41||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$779,721,000||-4%|
|44||Other animal leather||$846,678,000||-20.1%|
|45||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$920,012,000||-31.1%|
|47||Electric motors, generators||$610,033,000||-4.3%|
|48||Air or vacuum pumps||$633,452,000||-8.3%|
|49||Coffee/tea extracts, concentrates||$591,160,000||-2.2%|
|51||Chassis fitted with engine||$542,939,000||+3%|
|52||Iron or steel tubes, pipes||$401,120,000||+39.3%|
|53||Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)||$774,768,000||-28.9%|
|55||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$567,300,000||-4.2%|
|57||Manganese ores, concentrates||$406,306,000||+18.9%|
|58||Red meat offal||$479,132,000||-1.8%|
|59||Other food preparations||$356,564,000||+27.9%|
|61||Electric motor parts||$220,913,000||+99.1%|
|62||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$449,145,000||-2.2%|
|63||Hydrogen, rare gases||$479,580,000||-9.3%|
|65||Liquid pumps and elevators||$426,373,000||-3.2%|
|69||Non-fish guts, bladders,stomachs||$420,830,000||-9.4%|
|70||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$364,462,000||+4.6%|
|73||Live bovine cattle||$534,750,000||-33.5%|
|75||Unglazed ceramic flags, wall tiles, cubes||$449,878,000||-23.3%|
|77||Wood carpentry, builders' joinery||$356,210,000||-6.7%|
|79||Chemical woodpulp (dissolving)||$392,860,000||-18%|
|81||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$301,894,000||+2.4%|
|83||Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$338,507,000||-10%|
|84||Salted dried or smoked meat||$265,676,000||+11.7%|
|85||Cellulose fiber paper||$300,700,000||-7.9%|
|86||Electrical converters/power units||$231,831,000||+19.3%|
|88||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$278,059,000||-2.2%|
|89||Hydrazine, inorganic salts||$435,849,000||-37.8%|
|90||Phone system devices incl smartphones||$233,581,000||+15.3%|
|91||Aluminum ores, concentrates||$267,396,000||-3.4%|
|93||Melons, watermelons, papayas||$217,945,000||+15%|
|94||Hand-drawn paintings, drawings||$226,417,000||+8.6%|
|96||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$383,245,000||-37.5%|
|98||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$233,792,000||+2.1%|
|99||Uncoated kraft paper||$283,796,000||-16.1%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$195.3 billion or 87.2% by value for all international product sales originating from Brazil during 2019.
In macroeconomic terms, Brazil’s total exported goods represent 6.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($3.456 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 6.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 7.1% for 2018, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Brazil’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Brazil’s unemployment rate was an average 11.8% in 2019 down from 12.258% for 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Brazil’s capital city is Brasilia, although many tourists still assume flamboyant Rio de Janeiro is the country’s capital–at least for entertainment purposes.
See also Brazil’s Top 10 Imports, Brazil’s Top Trade Partners, Top Brazilian Trade Balances and Brazil’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on January 24, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on January 24, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on January 24, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on January 24, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on January 24, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on January 24, 2020
Wikipedia, Brazil. Accessed on January 24, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on January 24, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Brazil. Accessed on January 24, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on January 24, 2020
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on January 24, 2020