The Brazilian economy expanded by a surprising 1.5 percent in the second quarter, or an annualized rate of 6 percent, prompting Finance Minister Guido Mantega to affirm Friday that Brazil is on course for an economic recovery.
That’s good news for South Florida. Brazil is not only South Florida’s top trading partner but also its top source of international visitors.
The 1.5 percent increase over the first quarter in gross domestic product was the highest quarter-over-quarter increase since the first quarter of 2010 and far higher than analysts had been anticipating. Second quarter GDP was $753.3 billion, 3.3 percent higher than the second quarter of 2012. Mantega said the results, which were spurred by a 13 percent year-over-year increase in agriculture, were encouraging. “Most importantly, it is quality growth, driven by investment, and affecting all segments of the economy, with the highlights being industry and agriculture,’’ said Mantega. “We are on course for an economic recovery.’’
A few years ago, Brazil was among the high-growth darlings of the emerging world. But last year, the economy grew by just .9 percent. This year, the Central Bank forecast 2.7 percent economic growth but that was recently revised downward to 2.5 percent.
In a conference call from Brasilia with journalists, Mantega said despite the better second quarter results, the annual forecast would remain at 2.5 percent for the time being. He said third quarter growth could be somewhat slower and he predicted moderate growth for the rest of the year.
A looming problem with high inflation, he said, was under control.
“We find it very important that Brazil is growing gradually, especially in an adverse world economic situation,’’ said Mantega. “Most emerging nations are seeing a fall in their growth rates.”
Even though the Brazilian economy has been sluggish, it hasn’t made much of a dent in travel and trade with South Florida.
This summer, when those in the southern hemisphere take their winter vacations, travel from Brazil was particularly strong with more than more than 100 weekly flights from Brazil to Miami International Airport.
And Brazil is still the Miami Customs District’s top trading partner — by a wide margin. Through June, trade with Brazil through the Miami district, which includes airports and seaports from Palm Beach to Key West, totaled $8.17 billion, a 1.86 percent increase over the first half of 2012, according to an analysis by World City, a Coral Gables data and media company.
Exports from the Miami district increased by 2.11 percent to $6.87 billion during the first six months of the year, while imports were up .53 percent to $1.3 billion.