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  • Archive for March, 2017

    New study offers blueprint for indigenous forest monitoring

    2017 - 03.29

    A new study has revealed that well-trained indigenous people are as effective in monitoring rainforest as forestry professionals, and can provide a number of benefits.

    According to the study’s authors, the use of indigenous tribes can be more cost-effective, takes less time and helps to meet the requirement of participation by indigenous peoples in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programs.

    As part of the study, a thirty-strong team of indigenous technicians performed a forest inventory to measure forest carbon released in five Emberá and Wounaan territories across Darién, Panama. This data was then compared with that of forestry experts.

    The study also compared the tree height and diameter data that was previously gathered by expert technicians and indigenous technicians. In both cases, the research revealed that there were no significant differences between the two.

    Smithsonian predoctoral fellow and McGill University Ph.D. Candidate Javier Mateo-Vega, lead author of the new study, commented that this approach could be a valuable and cost-effective alternative to traditional forest management around the world, including across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    He said: “Given that large swaths of tropical forests, and forest carbon stocks, are held in indigenous territories, both recognised and under claim, it behooves national REDD+ programs to engage with these communities in culturally appropriate ways that will ensure their legitimate participation, generate clear benefits for them, and leave a legacy of capacity for future REDD+ related endeavours.”

    According to Mateo-Vega, this new forestry method is not only cost-effective, fast, and accurate, but also encourages the active participation of indigenous communities in climate change mitigation strategies, such as in REDD+.

    Mateo-Vega added that the study could provide a blueprint for carrying out the same process elsewhere in the tropics, including in Brazil, Peru and Guyana.

    Brazil foreign investment hits record levels

    2017 - 03.27

    Foreign direct investments (FDI) in Brazil reached a total of $16.8 billion in the first two months of 2017 – a record amount for the period, according to recently released data from the Brazilian government.

    The increased total investment during the period also marks an increase of 57 per cent in the capital invested when compared to the first two months of last year.

    According to the Brazilian government, the increased investments were spread across almost all of the economy’s sectors, but industry was found to have received the largest sum between January and February, drawing a total of $7.3 billion.

    Similarly, the petroleum coke and oil product sector achieved a total investment of $2.8 billion, while chemical products received $1.5 billion and the metals sector received $820 million.

    Figures also showed that the services industry was the target of $6.9 billion in foreign investment, with the industry’s top areas of electric power, trade and financial services securing a total of $5 billion, $832 million and $201 million respectively.

    Elsewhere in Brazil, the industries of agribusiness and mineral extraction have also excelled in drawing foreign investment, receiving $1.6 billion in investments including $1 billion in metallic mineral extraction, $362 million in the oil and natural gas extraction sector and $162 million in mineral extraction-related areas.

    According to the Brazilian government, these latest figures will help the country regain the trust of economic agents and foreign investors from around the world by demonstrating its success across its industries, particularly in the light of reforms that have been implemented by officials to tackle recent economic concerns.

    Commenting on the data, the government added in a statement: “In essence, the data means that there will be more resources available to expand businesses, develop projects and generate wealth and economic growth.”

    Brazil agribusiness exports to Middle East reach $1.35bn

    2017 - 03.22

    The Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) is confident that trade relations between the Middle East and Brazil will continue to thrive this year following considerable growth in the first two months of 2017.

    According to data released by Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), the value of Brazil’s agribusiness exports to the Middle East reached $1.336 billion, an increase of 22.8 per cent compared with 12 months ago. Reportedly, top exports included soy, poultry, beef and raw sugar.

    The report revealed that the share in total foreign sales in the region held by the sector increased to 11.3 per cent in January and February of this year, up from 9.3 per cent in the first two months of 2016, resulting in the Middle East claiming the label of Brazil’s third largest agribusiness importer for the period behind Asia and the European Union.

    Of the Middle Eastern countries relying on Brazilian exports, Saudi Arabia was named the top buyer as a result of transactions reaching $426.5 million, surpassing figures for January and February 2016 by almost 30 per cent.

    Commenting on the results of the report, Dr Michael Alaby, CEO of ABCC stated that the Middle East’s growing demand for Brazil’s agribusiness products could be due in part to its rising population and its economic growth, as well as a drive to continue trade ties between the two areas.

    “In the coming years, we will see stronger coordination and cooperation built upon mutual confidence, trust, and common interests in line with our commitment to increase trade and investment flows between the country and its key Arab partners,” he said.

    “We would like to believe that the new MAPA data concerning Brazil’s flourishing agribusiness exports to the region is a positive nod to our relentless efforts.”

    Brazil economy sees historic job increase

    2017 - 03.20

    In a sign that the Brazilian economy could be emerging from its worst recession in a century, figures have revealed that the country has added jobs for the first time in almost two years.

    According to President Michel Temer, the country added 35,612 jobs in February 2017, in the first monthly increase since March 2015. Mr Temer added that many of these new positions are within the agriculture, manufacturing and services industries.

    The data also revealed that job growth was mainly concentrated in the south, south-east and centre-west of the country, with the north and north-east still requiring support until jobs begin to reopen.

    Mr Temer added that the passage of his proposed reforms to Brazil’s social security system and modernisation of labour laws will remain an essential part of continuing the job growth, and bringing the country’s budget deficit under control as it pulls out of a “very violent” recession.

    Brazil’s two-year recession, its worst on record, has resulted in the loss of three million jobs overall, and prompted the rise of the unemployment rate to a record 12.6 per cent. However, the president has suggested that the latest job figures are a sign that the economy is recovering.

    In fact, in his recent speech, Mr Temer also revealed the country’s rating outlook has recently been upgraded, and inflation is now likely to meet the central bank’s 4.5 per cent target after slowing at a significant rate.

    “This shows confidence is returning bit by bit,” he said. “Inflation is slowing and the forecast is it will be below the target by the end of the year.”

    Furthermore, the president announced plans that the success of a recent corruption probe has resulted in high foreign direct investment and a rapidly growing trade surplus

    Brazil strategy to encourage agri-business start-ups

    2017 - 03.14

    Software firm SAP is to invest R$40 million in Brazil’s agri-focused start-up firms as part of a co-operation agreement with the country’s government.

    This week Brazil’s Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC) signed the deal with the multinational to encourage the development of Brazil’s start-up base and create new jobs.

    Invested over the next five years, the R$40 million will be focused on creating digital services and using Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for agribusiness.

    Marco Pereira, head of the MDIC, said the investment will bring greater efficiency to Brazil’s agricultural sector.

    “With this agreement, SAP committed to establishing a support network for start-ups and small businesses and sharing best practices that can help Brazil in its path towards more efficiency in agricultural production and in sectors that benefit from it, such as transport and logistics.”

    SAP will inject the money into its Research and Development Centre in the Brazilian city of São Leopoldo. It will also create 600 jobs to “maintain its growth in the country”.

    Under the initiative SAP will help start-ups access its supply chain, support the promotion of private investment in innovation and encourage the training of human resources.

    “We are proud to become a partner for the digital acceleration and the economic development of a region that is so important for SAP and for the world,” said Bill McDermott, SAP’s chief executive officer.

    Brazil Finance Minister: I can see signs of growth

    2017 - 03.13

    The Brazilian economy is about to enter a positive period of growth, the country’s Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles says.

    After the recession of last year, Mr Meirelles said there will be a “change in scenario” for early 2017.

    Brazil is in one of its worst ever recessions but, speaking during a meeting of the Council for Economic and Social Development, Mr Meirelles said measures taken by Brazil’s government mean the economy will grow again during the first quarter of 2017.

    “Brazil today is already a country getting back to normal,” he said, adding that the trend is for the economy to improve, especially after the adoption of the reforms proposed by the government such as changes in the pension system and the modernisation of labour laws, and that Brazil is moving towards a new stage of productivity.

    Mr Meirelles said even employment numbers, which are “usually the last to react in a crisis”, have signalled a recovery, with industry generating jobs once again.

    The Minister cited the number of passenger vehicles on roads, the production and scale of corrugated cardboard, grocery sales and motorcycle production as among the indicators of growth.

    There are also other important signs of recovery, he said, including goods imports, consumer confidence and business vehicle licenses.

    “These figures are the result of a series of policies that led the Brazilian economy to face the biggest crisis in its history. Now, we are in the process of leaving this crisis,” he added.

    Brazil’s agricultural sector enjoys best growth in 2 years

    2017 - 03.10

    Brazil may be in one of its deepest recessions, but there is one bright spot amid the apparent gloom: its agricultural sector.

    New data from the Brazil government shows that even through financial turmoil the country’s agri industry is fighting back, adding R$52.9 billion in agricultural gross domestic product between October and December 2016 alone, in what represents good news for people interested in forestry investment in Brazil.

    The sector finished 2016 strongly, ending the year with one per cent growth in Brazil’s agricultural GDP – the best result recorded since the first quarter of 2015, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

    The IBGE said the positive numbers are a result of increased production and job creation in the agri sector as producers prepare for an expected ‘super harvest’ later this year. The release of monies from federal funding programmes, which allowed producers to buy machinery, has also helped, the agency said.

    “The latest numbers in agriculture, drawn by the prospect of a new record harvest and increased exports, produced a record GDP for the fourth quarter,” IBGE said.

    “Between only October and December, the agriculture sector generated R$52.9 billion in wealth for the country.”

    Despite the good news, however, Brazil ended 2016 with a decline in GDP for the second consecutive year. Both agriculture and the economy ended in the red, with decreases of 6.6 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.

    Looking ahead to 2017 and the picture is brighter. “For 2017, the outlook is for strong growth and expansion in the sector: 4.03 per cent,” Brazil’s government said.

    This assessment, from the financial markets, was reported in a survey released weekly by the Central Bank. According to economists, agricultural GDP is expected to grow again over the next few years: +3.20 per cent in 2018, 3.00 per cent in 2019 and 3.00 per cent in 2020.

    Brazil named Latin America’s internet leader

    2017 - 03.07

    Brazil’s internet provision is the best among Latin American Countries, according to a new report published at global technology event Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

    The Inclusive Internet Index, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Facebook, ranks countries’ internet connection availability, price, competitiveness, and “content relevance”.

    The study puts Brazil in poll position among Latin American countries and 18th in comparison to the rest of the world.

    Brazil was awarded 78 points in the report, ahead of Chile (77.6), Argentina (76.2), Colombia (71.9) and Peru (66.3). The study analysed internet provision in 75 countries, representing 90 per cent of the population and 90 per cent of global GDP.

    Brazil is also ahead of several developed countries for criteria like content relevance (84.3 points) and affordable prices (92.3), beatingJapan (91.2), Germany (89.1) and the Netherlands (84.3).

    The criteria in which Brazil scored the least was readiness and availability.

    André Borges, Brazil’s telecommunications minister, said despite Brazil’s strong showing the country still has work to do in offering good quality internet.

    “We have to increase reach, providing for non-connected households and take connectivity to where there is demand,” he said.

    Brazil’s broadband strategy sees it work towards increasing broadband availability in its most remote regions. The government is set to launch a satellite, officially called the Geostationary Defence and Strategic Communications Satellite, on 21 March. Part of the satellite’s capacity will be used to expand the offer of internet in Brazil.

    The government also wants to pass a new telecommunications law, which will allow for an increase in broadband investment by phone operators.