Considering doing business in Brazil?

Verbio specializes in international trade, multicultural marketing, and multilingual communications, so we assembled cultural tips and trade info to help you explore new markets:

  • Country: Brazil
  • Capital: Brasilia
  • Largest City: São Paulo
  • Currency: Real (R$)
  • Population: 211,049,527 (2019)
  • Languages:  Brazilian Portuguese is the official language. One hundred eighty Amerindian languages are spoken in remote areas, such as Nheengatu, Baniwa, and Tucano.  There are significant communities of German (mostly the Brazilian Hunsrückisch, a High German language dialect) and Italian (mostly the Talian, a Venetian dialect) immigrants or their descendants in the Southern and Southeastern regions.

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Shaking hands has become a more acceptable way of greeting someone, but don’t be surprised if you are kissed on the cheek once (in São Paulo) or twice (in Rio and elsewhere). Men do not kiss each other, but greet with an open hug, using one hand to shake hands and the other to grab the man by the shoulder. These greetings are not only used between good friends and family members but are also quite common between business acquaintances.

In business settings, men are expected to wear full suits, even when the thermometer hits 43°C (110°F). Women will wear smart business suits (either a skirt or pants is acceptable).

As informal and casual as Brazilians are in social settings, they can be strangely formal in a business situation: Titles matter, and hierarchy is followed strictly.

Also note that unlike in much of Europe and North America, it can be nearly impossible to arrange anything over the phone. Most people do not have voice mail, and phone calls are often not returned. E-mail is becoming more common, but only as a follow-up. A personal visit is really the only effective way to get things done.

How to say it:

  • Hello: Olá

  • Please: Por favor

  • Thank you: Obrigado (male) Obrigada (female)

  • Goodbye: Tchau

  • How much does it cost?: Quanto custa isso?


Do you seek help with strategy and communications to identify and negotiate with a new manufacturer or distributor? Verbio can help.


U.S. goods and services trade with Brazil totaled an estimated $105.1 billion in 2019. Exports were $67.4 billion; imports were $37.6 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Brazil was $29.8 billion in 2019. Goods exports totaled $42.9 billion; goods imports totaled $30.8 billion.

Trade in services with Brazil (exports and imports) totaled an estimated $31.4 billion in 2019. Services exports were $24.6 billion; services imports were $6.8 billion.


The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2019 were: mineral fuels ($12 billion), aircraft ($7.0 billion), machinery ($4.9 billion), electrical machinery ($3.4 billion), and organic chemicals ($2.0 billion).


The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2019 were: mineral fuels ($5.2 billion), iron and steel ($3.4 billion), aircraft ($2.7 billion), special other (returns) ($2.5 billion), and machinery ($2.4 billion).

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Brazilian cuisine is the set of cooking practices and traditions of Brazil and is characterized by, European, Amerindian, African, and most recently Asian (mostly Japanese) influences. It varies greatly by region, reflecting the country’s mix of native and immigrant populations, and its continental size as well. This has created a national cuisine marked by the preservation of regional differences.

There is not an exact single “national Brazilian cuisine”, but there is an assortment of various regional traditions and typical dishes. This diversity is linked to the origins of the people inhabiting each area.

For instance, the cuisine of Bahia is heavily influenced by a mix of African, Indigenous, and Portuguese cuisines. Chili (including chili sauces) and palm oil are very common. In the northern states, however, due to the abundance of forest and freshwater rivers, fish, fruits and cassava (including flours made of cassava) are staple foods. In the deep south, as in Rio Grande do Sul, the influence shifts more towards gaúcho traditions shared with its neighbors Argentina and Uruguay, with many meat-based products, due to this region’s livestock-based economy; the churrasco, a kind of barbecue, is a local tradition.

Here is a list of dishes that we recommend you try when you visit Brazil:

  • Pão de Queijo #1 – A bread made of cheese, but cassava flour is used instead of wheat flour. Pão de Queijo is often eaten as a snack or served at breakfast.
  • Feijoada #2 – One of the few dishes eaten the length and breadth of Brazil, feijoada is a hearty stew of black beans, sausages, and cuts of pork of varying quality – traditionally veering towards the lower end, with trotters and ears all going into the mix.
  • Churrasco #3 – While in Brasil a must is to visit churrascarias (barbecue-style steakhouses). In the deep south, as in Rio Grande do Sul, there is a big influence towards gaúcho traditions shared with its neighbors Argentina and Uruguay, with many meat-based products, due to this region’s livestock-based economy; the churrasco, a kind of barbecue, is a local tradition.
  • Cachaça #4 – Dating back to the 1500s, cachaça is made from fermented sugarcane juice and is best known as the fiery kick in caipirinhas – Brazil’s national cocktail.
Sources: The World Bank – Frommers – Wikipedia

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
― Paulo Coelho

Brazilian lyricist and novelist, best known for his novel The Alchemist.

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