It was all going so well for Brazil in the years leading up to 2014. The economy was strong, with GDP growth reaching heady heights at 7.5% in 2010 and averaging 3% until 2014. As many developed countries were still reeling from the global financial crisis, Brazil, a member of the BRICS nations of emerging economies, appeared ascendant. In 2014, however, Brazil’s economy hit the rocks. What ensued was Brazil’s worst recession on record. GDP plummeted to -3.8% in 2015 and -3.6% in 2016. Unemployment stood at 14 million in June 2017, the worst in 20 years. Furthermore, the crisis has been longer than previous ones. This year, though, the first green shoots of recovery are emerging, albeit slowly. GDP growth was at 0.2% in Q2 2017 and, in September 2017, the central bank announced that it expects growth of 2.2% in 2018. There are signs Brazil’s stubborn unemployment rate is gradually declining as well.
Due to its particular strengths, namely in agrochemicals, renewable chemicals and cosmetics, Brazil’s chemical industry has been one of the earliest industrial sectors to recover, posting moderate growth since 2016. GBR explores the industries current conditions through conversations with over 70 of the sectors paramount players. Our Industry Exploration delves into some of the key issues facing the industry such as the feedstock challenge, the impact of the pre-salt reserves and shale gas production and infrastructure. We also look at how the distribution market is changing, with increased consolidation, international competition and focus on specialty chemicals.