Trade Guide: Brazil

Do you know?

Brazil (official name: the Federative Republic of Brazil) is the fifth largest country in the world, both in terms of population and geographic area. It is the seventh largest economy in the world, the largest country and economy in South America.

Business Culture and Etiquette

Brazil is such a diverse melting pot, it can be difficult to identify specific Brazilian cultural norms or behaviors, but in general the people are gregarious, free-spirited, and friendly.  Many cultures from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East have come together to form the Brazilian nation and culture.  Brazil includes some of the world's largest immigrant populations of Lebanese, Japanese, Germans, Italians and Portuguese, and large African and Jewish communities, as well as many other minorities.  These groups have all intermixed and intermarried, forming part of the diverse Brazilian cultural mosaic.  

All Brazilians however come together to celebrate Carnival, which takes place just before the start of Lent, which is 7 weeks before Easter.  Never attempt to conduct business during or immediately before or after Carnival.  The country is essentially shut down for business.

Food is an important part of life, culture, and business in Brazil.  During the course of a business relationship, you should be prepared for lengthy lunches and dinners, and many toasts to good health.  Meals are seen as an opportunity to socialize and build personal relationships.  Do not attempt to rush through meals.  Brazilians enjoy “taking their time” and the “just grab a quick sandwich” culture which is common in many western cultures is generally not the way things are done in Brazil.

Brazilians are very patriotic, so any positive comments you can share about your impressions of Brazil will be very warmly received.  Brazilians generally talk in very close proximity, and back-slapping and touching the elbow (among men) is fairly common.  Face to face communication is essential.  There will be limits to what you can accomplish by phone and email.


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