Discussing Entrepreneurship, regulation and economic development at the Brazilianists congress in Paris

At the beginning of the 21st century, Brazil rises as one of the emerging countries with rapid economic development. This phenomenon coincides with the intensification of globalization and is not limited to purely economic aspects, but includes social and political implications.

This is the subject of a panel I am honoured to coordinate at the Brazilianist in Europe Congress. We propose to address complementary views of economic development, where multiple disciplines melt: law, management, regulation, finance as well as history and even religion.

Adriano Albuquerque (Lisbon University) will talk about Brazilian entrepreneurship in Portugal. Adriano will explain the socio-economic transformations translating challenges for entrepreneurs and workers.

The challenges of Brazil in an unstable international economic order is the subject of Luiz Carlos Delorme Prado  (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ)
Spirituality and entrepreneurship: comparative study between Spain, Portugal and Brazil is the subject of Clara Margaça  (University of Salamanca). And informal economy will be discussed in The “problem” of street commerce as business: reflections from the case of Belo Horizonte by Tarcísio Araújo Filho (Federal University of São Carlos – UFSCar)

I will address the economic development drivers in Brazil from the 1990s until 2018.

Where and When

The panel will take place at 105 Boulevard Raspail, Paris room 10 at 1 pm on Wednesday 18th September 2019. Attendance is free.

Congresso ABRE 2019 LOGO

About the Brazilianists in Europe Congress

Europe has a strong tradition in scientific research somehow connected with Brazil. Fields are diverse: history, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, politics, economics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, architecture, among others. The Association of Brazilianists in Europe ABRE hosts a transdisciplinary forum for the exchange, dissemination and communication between students and professionals interested in Brazil. This year ABRE congress will take place in Paris, at the EHESS.

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The internationalisation of Vale in some slides

My recent presentation about the history of Vale is available online. 
It is a summary of some points of my PhD dissertation about Vale and how it became a leading mining company. It was presented on January 31rst at the Economic History Seminar, Maison de la Recherche, Sorbonne University. 

The dissertation summary:

The internationalisation of companies located in developing countries is a feature of contemporary globalization. Inverting the trend of capital flows, they represent what the Boston Consulting Group calls the global challengers: “a group of emerging challengers that are becoming important players in both developing and developed countries around the globe.”

This dissertation examines the case of one of these challengers: the Brazilian mining company Vale. In the beginning of 2000s, Vale was already a leader in the global production of iron ore, thanks to high quality and low cost reserves in Brazil. But its ability to face growing international competition was in question due to its local profile. After the acquisition of the Canadian giant Inco in 2006, Vale jumped from the sixth to the second position among global mining producers.

Such a drastic move elicits a number of questions. What reasons led this unknown emerging company to venture in an international environment? How successful was Vale in this endeavor? What are the effects of Vale’s internationalization on the Brazilian economy? Since its creation in 1942 as a state-controlled company, Vale had no choice but to turn to international markets. At the same time, as a fundamental part of the mining-steel sector, Vale plays a leading role in Brazil’s economic development.

After its privatization, the company defines the goal of becoming a global player with an aggressive plan for national and international acquisitions. Results are expressive. Vale succeds in expanding both its international presence and its product portfolio. The share of its workforce abroad rose from 1% in 2005 to 26% in 2010. Nevertheless, the becoming a global player ambition is not completely achieved. In 2010, Vale remains a company that suffers from Brazilian political interference and cost of doing business.

In this presentation I added a couple of slides to talk about the recent Brumadinho accident.
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The contradictions of Brazil’s foreign policy


This piece from the economist caught my eye…

“The values Rio Branco espoused—peace, moderation, trust in international law, non-intervention and what would now be called the pursuit of soft power—became integral to Brazil’s idea of itself, Mr Ricupero argues. And Itamaraty, as the foreign ministry is known (from the palace in Rio de Janeiro it formerly occupied), came to be seen as the Rolls-Royce of Brazilian government, its prestige based on meritocracy and knowledge.”

Brazilian foreign policy is never more important than now, as the view of great powers like the United States is that we are again in a era of great power competition.


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Brazil reopens for business

After electing a pro-business president who is committed to anti-corruption, Brazilians send a message to the world: “dear investors,  please come back”.

Concerns about Bolsonaro

Some concerns may arise, of course. Is this Bolsonaro guy a dictator? Will he turn Brazil into a populiste society? My short answer is: No and No. In fact, investors seems to have understood this better then the international press.

As Jean van de Walle’s explains in his blog, The Emerging Markets Investor, there is a disconnect between the Brazilian electorate and the “furious criticism” expressed by the foreign press. Walle points out that the high esteem which the international press still holds for former President Lula, despite the fact that he was convicted for corruption. The basic divergence can be explained by the almost exclusive focus of the foreign press on public persona. “Lula is remembered as an endearing and charismatic crusader for the poor, (… while) Bolsonaro is taken to task for a history or rude and politically incorrect statements on socially sensitive issues.”

The business community seems to have understood this better then the press. Some companies have already announced they will be investing in Brazil. The Brazilian stock exchange index Ibovespa is up.

Challenges ahead

Brazilian investment bank Itau’s report last week points out that Bolsonaro will face several challenges.  Legislative reforms will impact Brazil’s fiscal situation.

Staying on top of the opportunities

Companies targeting emerging markets can not forget that Brazil has a population of over 200 million. It is time to assess industry competitiveness and market segmentation. The goal is to combine performance, market perceptions, strategic analysis, growth potential and specific industry dynamics in Brazil.

These issues are the top of the iceberg. They are part of a study I prepared about the new investments opportunities in Brazil. I will be happy to talk about it.




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Turning Brazil into an agricultural powerhouse

The challenge of feeding a growing population was in the center of Malthus problem theory.  This large subject will be addressed by a panel during the World Economic History Congress in Boston. Our group will discuss the history of food production, processing and trade from a global perspective, focusing on the effective role of scientific and practical innovation in the availability of food on a large scale. I will present the Brazilian case with the paper Turning Brazil into an agricultural powerhouse with research and planning, 1970-2010.


Some members of the group and family during our pre-conference in Milan (from left to right) Silvia Conca, Benjamin Davison, Hildete Vodopives, Philip Dehne, Dominique Barjot, Christiane Cheneaux (and her husband), Fabrice Le Graet and Yves Tesson

The Brazilian innovation story

Brazil is the largest country in terms of arable land, with around 264 million hectares. Nevertheless, food production faced a number of constrains, poor productivity and difficult logistics.

The agriculture methods imported from the temperate regions of Europe were not adapted to the local climate. The problem escalated by the end of the 1960s, when a supply shortage forced the government to look for solutions. This paper looks into Brazil’s reorganization of the agriculture research system in the 1970s and, in particular, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, (Embrapa).

Founded by the Brazilian government in 1973, Embrapa radically changed food production in the country. In a 40-year period, Brazil overcame food shortage and became a leading international player. Embrapa’s agenda made innovation a priority, adapting products and production chain to the peculiarities of the Brazilian climate and soil. More recently, this State controlled organization, turned to international competitiveness and sustainability.

This research will be presented in the session The Struggle for Food: From Malthusian Tension to GMO and Beyond (19th-21st Centuries) Our panel takes place on Wednesday August 1rst, room 235 MIT building, Cambridge MA.

About the panel The Struggle for Food

Organiser: Silvia A. Conca Messina, ‘La Statale’ University of Milan, Italy, silvia.conca@unimi.it


Franco Amatori, Bocconi University, Italy, franco.amatori@unibocconi.it
Claudio Besana, Catholic University of Milan, Italy, claudio.besana@unicatt.it
Silvia A. Conca Messina, ‘La Statale’ University of Milan, Italy, silvia.conca@unimi.it
Rita D’Errico, Roma Tre University, Italy, rita.derrico@uniroma3.it
Irina Potkina, Institute of Russian History RAS, Russia, potka@inbox.ru
Dominique Barjot, Paris-Sorbonne University, France, dominique.barjot@paris-sorbonne.fr Christiane Cheneaux, Paris-Sorbonne University, France, christiane.cheneaux@gmail.com
Yves Tesson, Paris-Sorbonne University, France, yvestesson@yahoo.fr
Hildete de Moraes Vodopives, Paris-Sorbonne University, France, hildete@post.harvard.edu  Rajkamal Singh Mann, Oxford Brookes University, UK, rajkamal.singh.mann-2016@brookes.ac.uk Tahar Abbou, University of Adrar, Algeria, vd.gra.rec.sct.fac.lettre@univ-adrar.dz
Phillip Dehne, St. Joseph’s College, New York, USA, pdehne@sjcny.edu
Benjamin Davison, University of Virginia, USA, bendavison01@gmail.com

Paper Titles (Provisional)

Franco Amatori, From Malthusian tension to GMO

Claudio Besana, Silvia A. Conca Messina, Rita D’Errico, The Italian Food Preservation Industry since the 19th Century.

Irina Potkina, The formation of food industry in the Russian Empire in the 19th Century

Dominique Barjot, Scientific and practical innovation in the French Food Industries: the strategy of the Danone Group from the origins to today

Christiane Cheneaux, The nature of the famine and the” King law” in the Seine Department (19th Century)

Hildete de Moraes Vodopives, Turning Brazil into an agricultural powerhouse with research and planning, 1970-2010.

Rajkamal Singh Mann, Exploring the change in net-food status of countries in South Asia and South- Eastern Asia: 1961-2013

Phillip Dehne, Feeding hungry Europe after the First World War: American food, British transportation, German gold

Benjamin Davison, The Beef Economy and Malthusian Worries in Cold War America





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