Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Brazilian real has depreciated by -47.7% against the US dollar since 2016 and dropped by -30.7% from 2020 to 2020. Brazil’s weaker local currency makes Brazilian imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from the Brazilian real.
Applying a continental lens, 38.2% of Brazil’s total imports by value in 2020 were purchased from Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 22% of imports sold to Brazil while 18.7% worth of goods originated from fellow Latin America nations plus the Caribbean (18.7%) but excluding Mexico. Smaller percentages came from North American exporters (18.5% trailed by suppliers in Africa (2.3%) and Oceania (0.4%) led by Australia.
Given Brazil’s population of 211.4 million people, its total $158.9 billion in 2020 imported goods translates to roughly $750 in yearly product demand from every person in the South American nation.
Brazil’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Brazil’s import purchases during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Brazil.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$20.6 billion (12.9% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $19.9 billion (12.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $14.1 billion (8.9%)
- Organic chemicals: $10.4 billion (6.6%)
- Ships, boats: $10.2 billion (6.4%)
- Fertilizers: $8 billion (5.1%)
- Vehicles: $7.6 billion (4.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $7.2 billion (4.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $7.1 billion (4.4%)
- Other chemical goods: $5.6 billion (3.5%)
Brazil’s top 10 imports account for 69.7% of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
The highly capital-intensive ships and boats category was the fastest-growing product category, with related imports increasing by 122.8% from 2019 to 2020. Imported miscellaneous chemical goods was the only other category to expand, up by 3.5% year over year.
Leading the declining product categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -41% reduction.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2020, Brazilian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronic equipment including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$4.4 billion (up 0.2% from 2019)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $4 billion (down -4.3%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $1.6 billion (down -17.1%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $1.4 billion (down -5.6%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $1.1 billion (down -0.1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $893.5 million (down -6.9%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $785 million (down -15.8%)
- Electric motors, generators: $619.1 million (down -14.1%)
- Electric storage batteries: $491.5 million (up 1.8%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $434.5 million (down -12.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Brazilian purchases of electric storage batteries (up 1.8%) and phone system devices including smartphones (up 0.2%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Brazilian businesses and consumers.
In 2020, Brazilian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: US$2.9 billion (up 8% from 2019)
- Computers, optical readers: $1.3 billion (up 6.3%)
- Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery: $1.3 billion (up 84.5%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $1.1 billion (up 6.3%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $966.8 million (up 2.5%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $808.5 million (down -3.8%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $783.7 million (down -10.4%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $691.2 million (down -12.7%)
- Piston engine parts: $651.6 million (down -28.4%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $627.3 million (down -19%)
Among these import subcategories, Brazilian purchases of moving, grading, scraping or boring machinery (up 84.5%), taps, valves and similar appliances (up 8%) then computer parts or accessories (up 6.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Brazilian businesses and consumers.
In 2020, Brazilian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related goods.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$7.4 billion (down -43.1% from 2019)
- Crude oil: $2.6 billion (down -43.8%)
- Petroleum gases: $1.8 billion (down -33.3%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $1.6 billion (down -44%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $342 million (down -21.2%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $159.9 million (down -23.6%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $85.1 million (up 30.7%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $69.5 million (up 172.5%)
- Electrical energy: $55.7 million (up 66.6%)
- Tar pitch, coke: $30.1 million (down -23.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Brazilian purchases of petroleum jelly and mineral waxes (up 172.5%), electrical energy (up 66.6%) then high temperature distilled coal tar oils (up 30.7%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among Brazilian businesses and consumers.
In 2020, Brazilian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of imported organic chemicals.
- Heterocyclics, nucleic acids: US$2.6 billion (down -5.8% from 2019)
- Organo-sulphur compounds: $686 million (up 2.3%)
- Miscellaneous heterocyclics: $677.3 million (down -1.5%)
- Other organo-inorganic compounds: $581.5 million (down -20.2%)
- Acyclic alcohols: $565.6 million (down -15.2%)
- Heterocyclics, oxygen: $406.1 million (down -14.9%)
- Antibiotics: $374 million (up 27.2%)
- Cyclic hydrocarbons: $373.4 million (down -11.5%)
- Nitrile-function compounds: $344.2 million (up 24.3%)
- Unsaturated acyclic mono acids: $287.1 million (down -10.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Brazilian purchases of antibiotics (up 27.2%), nitrile-function compounds (up 24.3%) then organo-sulphur compounds (up 2.3%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentages within parenthesis clearly show where the declining demand lies for different types of imported organic chemicals among Brazilian businesses and consumers.
See also Brazil’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Brazil’s Top Trading Partners, Brazil’s Top 10 Exports and Top South American Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on February 16, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 16, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 16, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 16, 2021