Brazil is the sixth largest economy in the world and has significant regional importance in trade negotiations. As one of the world’s emerging powers, this country is experiencing rapid economic growth.

Despite the challenging business environment, Brazil offers immense opportunities for UK companies. According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Brazil is rapidly expanding, notably in energy, business services and science. Overall, however, the bilateral trade and investment relationship is underdeveloped.

The FIFA World Cup Championship and the next Summer Olympics in 2016 are both considered favourable opportunities for Brazil to overcome its weaknesses, especially in the area of infrastructure.

If you choose to do business in Brazil, learning a few facts about the country, and especially about its business environment, will prove to be an effective idea.

Since football is the hottest word this month, and there are 11 players in a football team, here are:

10 + 1 tips about business meetings in Brazil

  • DO… Make appointments some time in advance and make sure to avoid the period around Christmas, New Year, and the Carnival week (usually in February). Doing business is not a top concern during these jolly times.
  • DO… Be punctual for a formal meeting. Even though Brazilians are usually casual about punctuality and arrive 10 to 15 minutes late at social gatherings, business meetings tend to start on time. This is especially true in the big cities. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t get offended if you are kept waiting.
  • DO… Shake hands with everyone present, both at the beginning and at the end of a meeting. Always make eye contact while shaking hands and don’t be surprised if this activity takes a little longer than with other people.
  • DO… Exchange business cards with everyone present during introductions. Although not officially required, it is a good idea to have the flip side of your card translated into Brazilian Portuguese. Present it with this side facing the person you are giving it to.
  • DO… Enquire about the language in which they hold business meetings. A growing number of Brazilian executives and government officials speak perfect English, but this doesn’t mean all business meetings are conducted in English. It is always a good idea to hire a professional interpreter if you’re not fluent in Brazilian Portuguese.
  • DON’T… Bring any gifts to first meetings, as gifts are not considered that important in establishing business relationships.
  • DON’T… Get down to business immediately during a meeting. The European direct way of negotiation might prove to be inefficient. Business meetings in Brazil are conducted at a casual, unhurried pace.
  • DON’T… Expect negotiations to be simple. More often than not, Brazilians insist on drawing up detailed legal contracts reflecting business agreements. A great tip is to use local accountants and lawyers during negotiations; this builds trust.
  • DON’T… Feel disrespected if you are interrupted during a conversation. This is not considered rude, partly because Brazilians are so passionate about any conversation they might have.
  • DON’T… Make your presentations monotonous. Use multiple illustrations whenever possible. Also, Brazilian Portuguese-translated brochures and/or hand-outs will be much appreciated.

Extra Tip: Brazilians prefer face-to-face meetings to written communication. The phone, fax and email are not unfamiliar business tools to them, but you will be able to do only limited business if choosing to rely solely on technology.

Further reading: