Tuesday, September 20, 2011

China 4 - 0 Brazil

When Brazil was competitive
I know that I am exagerating when I say that Brazil is only competitive in football (soccer) - even though they have recently lost a friendly against Germany. 

However, after this loss they decided to cancel all "classics" (games against top teams) and only play against teams such as Ghana, Guinea and others. A recent game against Argentina in the Roca Cup ended 0-0 - the rematch will be at the end of this month.

Unfortunately this reaction is very exemplary for a Brazilian behavior style. Recently, imported cars have been flooding into the country - especially Hyundai has been very succesful and is even in the process of building a huge plant. On the lower end, the Chinese companies JAC and Chery have entered the country with a bang and riding on a weak USD, opening dealerships and advertising heavily - both are also planning on building plants. And on the upper end, Jaguar, BMW (also planning a plant), Audi, and even Mini have been extremely succesful catering to the wealthy. What was the reaction of the government?: Slap on (even) more taxes on imported cars (i.e. outside of Mercosul) and cars with less than 65% local content (local producers have 45 day grace period). This will raise the average price of most cars not qualifying for exemption by 25% or more, thus killing off the efforts of many of the new emergents. This will not help the Brazilian car industry which already sells expensive and mediocre cars - ask a Brazilian for his opinion the best that is locally produced and he will, without a blink of the eye tell you: Omega!

Where was I? Competitiveness: The World Economic Forum has released their latest competitiveness index and, surprise surprise, Brazil did not showcase well. And this is not related to the companies itself - although there are also weakness there. Brazil finished overall in 53rd place (of 142), better by 5 positions since the last time and on par with India (56th), but way behind China (26th). What drags down Brazil are
"[...] the lagging quality of its overall infrastructure (104th) despite its Growth Acceleration Programme (PAC), its macroeconomic imbalances (115th), the poor overall quality of its educational system (115th), the rigidities in its labor market (121st), and insufficient progress to boost competition (132nd) are areas of increasing concern."
Brazil is saved by market size (10th) - but even business environment (31st), financial markets (40th), technological adoption (44th) and innovation (47) are only midfield.

So overall, Brazil has improved but still is far from being a future leader and if we look very closely, indicators under strong governmental influence perform much poorer than those which are driven by the private sector... Drive on the local roads, fly into any airport, try to hire somebody with an intermediate level of English-speaking skills (or try to fire them later!) and you will know why.

Well, at least Brazil is still better than Argentina in competitiveness. Argentina is currently ranked 85th.

BTW, the top 10 this year were Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden, Finland, United States, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, and United Kingdom.

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