About guest author Rui Monteiro-Claro: Rui is a client development manager at Acclaro, with nearly 15 years experience in the translation and localization industry. Rui was born and raised in Portugal and often travels to Brazil for business and pleasure.
What makes Brazil such an appealing place for business?
Brazil has the world's eighth-largest economy, despite the poverty and inequality that plagues this giant of the southern hemisphere. And as one of the fastest-growing economies on the planet, it's become a much more attractive place to do business. Brazil is the second-largest exporter of agricultural products, has a large industrial sector, and vast mineral, oil and gas resources.
Starting in 2003, the government headed by President Lula (and now by his successor, Dilma Rousseff) put in place a mix of progressive social policies and excellent fiscal management. Domestic consumer demand is rising, GDP was more than $2 trillion in 2010, and the economy continues to enjoy healthy growth.
The official language of Brazil is Portuguese — not Spanish — and it's very important to remember this. While most Brazilians can understand Spanish, they are proud of their status as the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America.
How should I prepare for business meetings in Brazil?
It's important to schedule business meetings at least two or three weeks ahead of time, and confirm them when you arrive in Brazil. Make sure to leave a couple of hours in between meetings in case the meetings go on longer or start later than you've planned.
You'll also need to adjust your own expectations of time. Brazilians approach scheduling with a very relaxed and flexible attitude and may arrive late — very late.
It's extremely important to socialize a bit before you get down to business, because the first step to building trust and good relationships in Brazil is getting to know your colleagues personally. And personal relationships are one of the single most important keys to succeeding in business in Brazil. So you may start a meeting by sharing a cafezinho (a little cup of that famous Brazilian coffee) and talking about soccer and family before any actual business takes place. Make sure to accept any food and drink that you’re offered as refusing can be considered insulting.
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