General facts

Population: 198.7 million

Capital: Brasília

Official language: Brazilian Portuguese

Currency: Brazilian Real

Religions: Christian and Roman Catholic

Key industries


The automotive industry is the second largest industry in Brazil as the country has attracted a lot of car manufacturers over the years as many have moved their production there. Brazil now has the 6th largest car market in the world. Significant growth is expected in both the LV and HV market over the next 5 years.

Oil and gas

Brazil’s oil and gas industry is booming and is expected to grow over the next few years, with expectations that it’ll create another 500,000 jobs by 2020. It is the third largest producer of oil and gas after the United States and Russia.


Brazil has 29 steel mills run by 11 companies and in 2018 the steel industry grew by more than 8%.

Approach to business (things to keep in mind) 

  • Research the formality of business in the region you’re targeting. São Paolo is known for being very formal, whereas business in Rio de Janeiro can be more casual.
  • Businesses are usually hierarchical, and the most senior member of staff will make all final decisions.
  • When you first meet someone use a formal title and surname (Senhor Silva or Senhora/Senhorita Santos) and once you get to know them you can use first names.
  • There’s usually a lot of small talk at the start of meetings, so don’t expect to jump straight into discussing business.
  • Consider appointing a Brazilian advisor to help you navigate through all of the bureaucracy and to advise you on Brazilian culture.
  • Coffee is of huge importance in Brazil. Expect to drink a lot of it before and during meetings while you get to know your colleagues.

Dos and Don’ts in a business meeting


  • …dress to impress. Dark coloured suits should be worn most of the time and pale, lightweight suits are acceptable in summertime, which is between December and February in Brazil.
  • …try to learn as much Brazilian Portuguese as you can before your first meeting. It’ll really help to build rapport and with negotiations. Have some of your business cards translated into Portuguese too.
  • …make good eye contact and say muito prazer (my pleasure) when you meet someone for the first time.
  • …arrange meetings 2-3 weeks in advance but be flexible with your Brazilian colleagues if they need to be rearranged.


  • …try to book in a meeting during carnaval, it’s one of the biggest events in Brazil’s calendar.
  • …book several meetings one after the other as meetings tend to run over and you’ll be late to your next one.
  • …be impatient. Leading on from the point above, meetings are likely to go at a slower pace than meetings in the UK as all small details are discussed.
  • …give handkerchiefs or anything purple or black as gifts, as they are commonly associated with funerals.

Conversation topics

Be sure to talk about food and drink (especially coffee), travel and family life with your Brazilian colleagues. Avoid discussing religion, money (apart from during business transactions) or the political climate.