Brazil Ranked Lowest in G-20 in Trade Openness Study, ICC Says

Brazil is the most protectionist among the world’s major economies, ranking below nations including Argentina and Nigeria in a survey of global trade trends by the International Chamber of Commerce.

The Paris-based ICC, in a report today, ranked Brazil 67th out of 75 countries -- the lowest among the Group of 20 -- for openness to trade, foreign direct investment and infrastructure competitiveness. Hong Kong topped the list while Canada, coming in at 19th, was ranked the highest among the G-20 nations, according to the ICC’s open markets index.

Brazil’s increasing reliance on trade barriers has been punishing Latin America’s biggest economy amid a renewed global push to promote free trade. President Dilma Rousseff last year raised taxes and tariffs on foreign-made cars and more than 100 other products after manufacturers complained about losing ground to Chinese imports made cheaper by a 33 percent rally in the real against the dollar in the past decade.

While U.S. President Barack Obama pursues a free trade agreement with Europe, and regional neighbors including Mexico, Chile and Peru negotiate a Pacific-region accord, Brazil has been slower to seek access for its manufacturing exports. In two decades of existence, its trade pact with Argentina, known as Mercosur, has negotiated the entry of a single member, Venezuela, and has inked just three free trade deals, with Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian territories.

Since helping lead opposition to the U.S.-led Free Trade Area of the Americas in 2005, Brazil’s share of global trade has shrunk. While the country’s exports have jumped 262 percent over the past decade, that’s less than half the average growth for other emerging markets such as Russia, India and China, a World Bank study in February found.

After running a trade surplus for much of the past decade, thanks to strong demand for its commodities from China, Brazil this year is buying more than it sells abroad. The shortfall reached a record $4 billion in January.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joshua Goodman in Rio de Janeiro at [email protected].