Industry in Brazil

Origins, 1800s-1840s

Brazilian industry has its earliest origin in workshop
A workshop is a room or building which provides both the area and tools that may be required for the manufacture or repair of manufactured goods...

s dating from the beginning of the 19th century. Most of the country's industrial establishments appeared in the Brazilian southeast (mainly in the provinces of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais
Minas Gerais
Minas Gerais is one of the 26 states of Brazil, of which it is the second most populous, the third richest, and the fourth largest in area. Minas Gerais is the Brazilian state with the largest number of Presidents of Brazil, the current one, Dilma Rousseff, being one of them. The capital is the...

 and, later, São Paulo), and, according to the Commerce, Agriculture, Factories and Navigation Joint, 77 establishments registered between 1808 and 1840 were classified as “factories” or “manufacturers”. However, most, about 56 establishments, would be considered workshops by today's standards, directed toward the production of soap
In chemistry, soap is a salt of a fatty acid.IUPAC. "" Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. . Compiled by A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford . XML on-line corrected version: created by M. Nic, J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN...

 and candles of tallow
A candle is a solid block or cylinder of wax with an embedded wick, which is lit to provide light, and sometimes heat.Today, most candles are made from paraffin. Candles can also be made from beeswax, soy, other plant waxes, and tallow...

, snuff
Snuff is a product made from ground or pulverised tobacco leaves. It is an example of smokeless tobacco. It originated in the Americas and was in common use in Europe by the 17th century...

, spinning
Spinning (textiles)
Spinning is a major industry. It is part of the textile manufacturing process where three types of fibre are converted into yarn, then fabric, then textiles. The textiles are then fabricated into clothes or other artifacts. There are three industrial processes available to spin yarn, and a...

 and weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...

, food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

s, melting of iron and metals, wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

 and silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

, amongst others. They used both slaves and free laborers.
There were twenty establishments that could be considered in fact manufacturers
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

, and of this total, thirteen were created between the years 1831 and 1840. All were, however, of small size and more resembled large workshops than proper factories. Still, the manufactured goods were quite diverse: hat
A hat is a head covering. It can be worn for protection against the elements, for ceremonial or religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status...

s, comb
A comb is a toothed device used in hair care for straightening and cleaning hair or other fibres. Combs are among the oldest tools found by archaeologists...

s, farrier
A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses' hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves...

y and sawmill
A sawmill is a facility where logs are cut into boards.-Sawmill process:A sawmill's basic operation is much like those of hundreds of years ago; a log enters on one end and dimensional lumber exits on the other end....

s, spinning and weaving, soap and candles, glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

es, carpet
A carpet is a textile floor covering consisting of an upper layer of "pile" attached to a backing. The pile is generally either made from wool or a manmade fibre such as polypropylene,nylon or polyester and usually consists of twisted tufts which are often heat-treated to maintain their...

s, oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

, etc. Probably because of the instability of the regency period, only nine of these establishments were still functioning in 1841, but these nine were of great size
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 and could be considered to “presage a new era for manufactures”. The advent of real manufacturing before the 1840s was extremely limited, due to the self-sufficiency of the regions of the country (mainly farms producing coffee and sugar cane, which produced their own food, clothes, equipment, etc.), the lack of capital, and high costs of production that made it impossible for national manufactures to compete with foreign products. Costs were high because most of the raw materials were imported, even though some of the plants
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 already used machine
A machine manages power to accomplish a task, examples include, a mechanical system, a computing system, an electronic system, and a molecular machine. In common usage, the meaning is that of a device having parts that perform or assist in performing any type of work...



The promulgation of the Alves Branco tariff would modify this picture. This tariff succeeded in increasing State revenues and stimulating growth of national industry. The sudden proliferation of capital was directed to investments in the areas of urban services, transports, commerce, banks, industries, etc. Most of the capital invested in industries was directed toward textiles. With unprecedented industrial growth, multiple manufacturing establishments appeared, dedicated to such diverse products as melting of iron and metal, machinery, soap and candles, glasses, beer, vinegar, gallons of gold and silver, shoes, hats and cotton fabric.

One of the main establishments created at this period was the metallurgical factory Ponta da Areia (In English: Sand Tip), in the city of Niterói
Niterói is a municipality in the state of Rio de Janeiro, southeast region of Brazil. It has an estimated population of 487,327 inhabitants and an area of ², being the sixth most populous city in the state and the highest Human Development Index. Integrates the Metropolitan Region of Rio de...

, that also constructed steamships. It is likely that the textile industry
Textile industry
The textile industry is primarily concerned with the production of yarn, and cloth and the subsequent design or manufacture of clothing and their distribution. The raw material may be natural, or synthetic using products of the chemical industry....

 benefited most by the virtue of being the oldest in the country. It first appeared in 1830, with the founding of the Santo Antonio do Queimado plant in the city of Salvador
Salvador, Bahia
Salvador is the largest city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Salvador is also known as Brazil's capital of happiness due to its easygoing population and countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. The first...

, capital of the province of Bahia
Bahia is one of the 26 states of Brazil, and is located in the northeastern part of the country on the Atlantic coast. It is the fourth most populous Brazilian state after São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, and the fifth-largest in size...

. The textile sector was quite dynamic in the monarchic period and received large investments until 1890, when it entered into decline. Various modernizations occurred, principally between 1840 and 1860, when factories with a high level of technological capability were created, able to compete with other major international centers. Other improvements came with the establishment of factories and forges geared for the production of equipment and pieces for textile manufacture. And now Brazil ranks second in the world’s largest producer of denim, the third – for the production of knitted fabrics, the fifth – for the manufacture of clothing and seventh – for the production of yarns and fibers. The concentration of industry that emerged in the province of Bahia considerably expanded its economic scope, reaching the south of Ceará
Ceará is one of the 27 states of Brazil, located in the northeastern part of the country, on the Atlantic coast. It is currently the 8th largest Brazilian State by population and the 17th by area. It is also one of the main touristic destinations in Brazil. The state capital is the city of...

, Piauí
Piauí is one of the states of Brazil, located in the northeastern part of the country.Piauí has the shortest coastline of any of the non-landlocked Brazilian states at 66 km , and the capital, Teresina, is the only state capital in the north east to be located inland...

 and even Minas Gerais
Minas Gerais
Minas Gerais is one of the 26 states of Brazil, of which it is the second most populous, the third richest, and the fourth largest in area. Minas Gerais is the Brazilian state with the largest number of Presidents of Brazil, the current one, Dilma Rousseff, being one of them. The capital is the...

The extinction of the traffic in African slaves in 1850, contrary to what many authors allege, did not "liberate" credit for industrial development. That claim has no documentary basis whatever. On the contrary, capital employed in the trade was had already been directed to sectors such as enterprises of urban services, transport, banking and trade. But it is possible that there was an indirect contribution to the growth of the industrial sector through banking loans. In 1850, there were 50 factories
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 with a capital of at least Rs 7.000:000$000.

The imperial government created several incentives for the industrialization of the country. The earliest of these date from the reign of Dom
Don (honorific)
Don, from Latin dominus, is an honorific in Spanish , Portuguese , and Italian . The female equivalent is Doña , Dona , and Donna , abbreviated "Dª" or simply "D."-Usage:...

 Pedro I, through awards of government grants. The first establishment to receive such a grant was the
Fábrica das Chitas (In English: Chitas Factory), devoted to paper and printing, by a decree of 26 June 1826. The practice was resumed in the 1840s, when new industrial establishments received subsidies. in 1857, seven factories benefited from this practice of incentives, among them, the Ponta da Areia mentioned above and that was owned by Irineu Evangelista de Sousa
Irineu Evangelista de Sousa
Irineu Evangelista de Sousa, the Viscount of Mauá was a Brazilian entrepreneur, industrialist, banker and politician. He was called the Rothschild of the South American continent by the New York Times in 1871. He received the titles of baron and visconde com grandeza of Mauá...

 (later Viscount of Mauá). One of the criteria for the granting of these subsidies was the exclusive employment of free workers.

The goal, then, was not only the transition from the old colonial economic system to that of the modern capitalist, but also from slave labor to free. Other incentives arose, such as the decree of 8 August 1846 that exempted manufactured products from certain transport taxes (internally as well as externally), shielded from military recruitament a determinate number of employees of industrial establishments and eliminated tariffs on parts and machinery imported for textile factories. The following year in June, a new decree stated that all industrial establishments on national soil would be free of taxes on imported raw materials. Thus, production costs of domestic industry dropped considerably, allowing it to compete with foreign products. The Alves Branco tariff underwent modification in 1857, reducing to 15% the tax on imported products. Later, under the Rio Branco cabinet at the beginning of the 1870s, the tariff on foreign products was newly raised to 40%, and new raw materials were exempted from import taxes.


At the end of the 1860s, came a new industrial surge caused by two armed conflicts: the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 and the War of the Triple Alliance
War of the Triple Alliance
The Paraguayan War , also known as War of the Triple Alliance , was a military conflict in South America fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay...

. Because of the first, U.S. production of cotton was interrupted by the blockade of the Union forces against the Confederacy. The second resulted in the emission of currency and an increase in import tariffs to cover the costs of war. This resulted in a great stimulus not only for the textile industry, but also for other sector, such as chemicals, cigars, glass, paper, leather, and optical and nautical instruments.

During the 1870s, thanks to the decline of the coffee region of the Paraíba Valley
Paraíba Valley
The Paraíba Valley is located in the eastern part of the state of São Paulo along the rodovia Presidente Dutra , between Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo....

 and some areas of sugar production, many owners of plantations invested not only in the cotton textile industry, but also in other manufacturing sectors. Deployment of a railway network throughout the national territory also stimulated the emergence of new industrial activities, mainly in São Paulo. Industry also experienced a major impetus in this period. From the 1870s onward, the great expansion of industrialization became a constant in Brazil. In 1866, there were 9 textile factories with 795 workers. In 1881, there were 46 textile factories through the country: 12 in Bahia; 11 in Rio de Janeiro; 9 in São Paulo; 9 in Minas Gerais; and 5 in other provinces. The number of establishments diminished a little by 1885 to 42 textile factories with 3,172 workers. However, it did not harm the overall growth in the sector up to 1889.

In 1880 the Industrial Association was established, with its first board elected the following year. The Association supported new industrial incentives and propagandized against the defenders of an essentially agricultural Brazil. 9.6% of the capital of the Brazilian economy was directed toward industry by 1884, and by 1885, 11.2%. This figure dropped sharply during the republican period, falling to 5% between 1895 and 1899, and improving slightly to 6% between 1900 and 1904. Still, it would take many years to return to the level that prevailed during the Empire. At the time of its downfall in 1889, monarchical Brazil had 636 factories (representing an annual rate of increase of 6.74% from 1850) with a capital of Rs 401.630:600$000 (annual growth rate of 10.94% since 1850). Of this amount, 60% were employed in the textile sector, 15% in food, 10% in the chemical, 4% in timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

, 3.5% in clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

 and 3% in metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...


Brazilian industrial sector

Most large industry is concentrated in the south and south east. The north east is traditionally the poorest part of Brazil, but it is beginning to attract new investment.

Brazil has the third most advanced industrial sector in The Americas. Accounting for one-third of GDP, Brazil's diverse industries range from automobiles, steel and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft, and consumer durables. With the increased economic stability provided by the Plano Real, Brazilian and multinational businesses have invested heavily in new equipment and technology, a large proportion of which has been purchased from U.S. firms.

Brazil has a diverse and sophisticated services industry as well. During the early 1990s, the banking sector accounted for as much as 16% of GDP. Although undergoing a major overhaul, Brazil's financial services industry provides local businesses with a wide range of products and is attracting numerous new entrants, including U.S. financial firms. The São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 stock exchanges are undergoing a consolidation and the reinsurance sector is about to be privatized.

The Brazilian government has undertaken an ambitious program to reduce dependence on imported oil. Imports previously accounted for more than 70% of the country's oil needs but in 2006 Brazil has achieved oil self sufficiency. Brazil is one of the world's leading producers of hydroelectric power, with a current capacity of about 58,000 megawatts. Existing hydroelectric power provides 92% of the nation's electricity. Two large hydroelectric projects, the 12,600 megawatt Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River
Paraná River
The Paraná River is a river in south Central South America, running through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina for some . It is second in length only to the Amazon River among South American rivers. The name Paraná is an abbreviation of the phrase "para rehe onáva", which comes from the Tupi language...

--the world's largest dam—and the Tucurui Dam
Tucurui dam
The Tucuruí Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Tocantins River located on the Tucuruí County in the State of Pará, Brazil. The main purpose of the dam is hydroelectric power production and navigation. It is the first large-scale hydroelectric project in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. The...

 in Para in northern Brazil, are in operation. Brazil's first commercial nuclear reactor, Angra I, located near Rio de Janeiro, has been in operation for more than 10 years. Angra II is under construction and, after years of delays, is about to come on line. An Angra III is planned. The three reactors would have combined capacity of 3,000 megawatts when completed.[]

Proven mineral resources are extensive. Large iron and manganese reserves are important sources of industrial raw materials and export earnings. Deposits of nickel, tin, chromite, bauxite, beryllium, copper, lead, tungsten, zinc, gold, and other minerals are exploited. High-quality coking-grade coal required in the steel industry is in short supply.


Brazilian automobile production began in 1957, with an initial production of 1,166 units in the first year. Most of the production is concentrated in the states São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Paraná.
Automobile production
Year 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2004 2005 2007
Units (in millions) 0.042 0.306 0.933 0.663 1.36 1.86 2.50 2.61 2.97


Petroleum production
Year 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2006
Thousand barrels per day 83 169 189 653 1,271 1,809


  • production: 380 TWh (2004)
  • consumption:391 TWh (2004)

Electricity - production by source: (2004)
  • other sources: 9%
  • hydroelectric: 83%
  • Conventional thermal: 4%
  • nuclear: 4%

  • production: 2.165 million barrel/day (2006)
  • consumption: 2.216 million barrel/day (2006)
  • imports: 0.051 million barrel/day (2006)
  • proven reserves: 11.2 billion barrels (2006)
  • refinery capacity: 1.908 million barrel/day (2006)

Natural gas:
  • production: 9.88 billion cubic kilometers (2006)
  • consumption: 19.34 billion cubic kilometers (2006)
  • imports: 9.45 billion cubic kilometers (2006)
  • proven reserves: 326 billion cubic kilometers (2006)
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