Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Top 10 Brazilian Imports

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Even though Brazil is not on the list of the countries that most import products, the country also purchases goods from abroad. Know in this article what are the 10 products most imported by the country.

In 2011, 20% of all the products consumed in Brazil were imported, which means that one in five products that Brazilians consume comes from abroad. Even with these statistics, Brazil still is one of the countries with the lower rates of import, proving that it's a difficult market for foreign companies to enter.

According to the World's Bank, from a list of 179 countries, Brazil is the one with the lowest level of imports in relation to its GDP. The 20% of imports represent a record, according to CNI, the National Confederation of Industry: USD 226,251 were spent importing products. The sector with the most significant increases were:

  • Electronic devices and IT sector in general, with a 51% increase
  • The products of petroleum and liquid fuel, that increased from 17,8% to 23,3%
  • Machines and equipments sector, that reached 36,8%

Ten Most Imported Products

According to the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Commerce, the ten products that Brazil imports the most are:

1. Crude oil: 6,2%

Petrobrás has not reached a self-sufficiency in terms of production, but has reached a record in oil refining in 2013. The State company is increasing the imports of oil because its refineries are processing a volume of the commodity that is higher than the volume that can be produced. In January 1st, 2013, 2,111 billion of liters of oil were processed, against 1,98 billion produced, in November, 2012, the last time Petrobrás released the data.

According to Petrobrás, the significant increase in processing oil helps reducing the import of its products. However, the import of gas is substituted by the purchase of crude oil, which is the raw material for the refineries.

2. Automotives: 5,3%

Brazil imported 913.351 cars last year, which, in sales, represents one in every four cars. Besides that, there are also the independent and individual imports of car, plus the import of 4.402 trucks and 83 buses. Most of the imported cars come from Argentina, but from the 60 most sold cars 15 are Korean, 14 are Argentinian, 12 come from Mexico, six from China, five from Japan, four from Germany, two from England, one from Belgium and one from Canada.

3. Liquid oils: 3,5%

Besides importing oil, Petrobrás has also been importing gasoline in order to fulfill the demand of the national market. The problem is that this purchase is jeopardizing the company, that buys the good at international prices but sells it at national prices, which are lower.

In 2012, the import of gasoline reached 3,78 billion liters, which represents a 70% rise compared to 2011. Around USD 2,91 billion were spent in 2012, against USD 1,6 billion spent in 2011.

4. Autoparts: 2,8%

The main supplier of autoparts to Brazil is Mexico. In two years, the imports of Mexican autoparts has increased in 87%: from USD 287 million in 2010 to USD 381 million in 2011 and USD 537 million in 2012.

In 2012, Brazilian and Mexican governors discussed the automotive agreement and fixed quotas for the car exchange, but didn't include the autoparts in the discussion. The president of Sindipeças, the National Union of Automobile Component Industries, defends that this same quota is applied to autoparts as well, in order to maintain a fair competition with autoparts produced in Brazil.

5. Drugs and medicine: 2,6%

Brazil depends a lot on imports of drugs and medicine. In 2011, the government promised to invest BRL 1.5 billion, which is almost four times more than the BRL 400 million that were being invested. Also, in that year, the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) made a report saying that almost 80% of the medicines sold in Brazil were produced by multinational companies.

The number of imported drugs and medicines in Brazil rises also as a consequence of multinational companies that prefer to produce abroad and then export, because of the Brazilian bureaucracy involved in the process.

Even with this dependence, Brazilian pharmaceutical industry is the eighth larger in the world, and the forecast is that it will become the sixth larger until 2017.

6. Naphtha: 2,1%

Naphtha is a product of gasoline and the main raw material for the petrochemical industry, followed by natural gas – which is the 14th on the list of most imported products. For a while, in 2009, it was more interesting to purchase naphtha than gasoline because of the prices of the product, that were cheaper.

Naphtha is used for the production of basic petrochemicals such as ethane and propane.

7. Electronic components: 1,9%

Brazil is also very dependent on the imports of electronic components and technology, in general. From the electronic complex, the sector of electronic components is the only one without a long-term industrial policy. However, its development has been possible through the IT and telecommunications policies.

8. Bituminous coal: 1,9%

The bituminous coal is a type of mineral coal. In Brazil, there are coals mines in Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Santa Catarina states, as well as in Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Bahia, Pernambuco, Piauí, Maranhão, Pará, Amazonas and Acre, with the difference that in these last nine states, it is an economically irrelevant quantity.

The bituminous coal is the penultimate stage of coal before the anthracite. Each stage is called rank, and the higher the rank is, the better the coal is.

9. Reception and transmission parts: 1,6%

Telephone units, considering the telephones to mobile wireless networks and to other wireless networks, equipments to transmit or receive voice, images or any other data, including communication parts that are based on digital techniques are other products highly imported.

10. Potassium chloride: 1,5%

Brazil is the main consumer of this product in the world. Potassium chloride is used as a fertilizer, being the agricultural sector the responsible for the demands of the market. Data from 2011 shows that even though the country's production has increased over the past years, it only covers approximately 10% of the demand. The other 90% of potassium chloride is imported.