Emerging Markets: A Close Examination of Brazil's GDP

Emerging Markets: A Close Examination of Brazil's GDP

6 Min.

Brazil is ranked as the world's tenth-largest economy. Although it experienced a recession in 2013, it has since shown moderate economic growth. The services sector is the largest contributor to Brazil's economy, making up 58% of its GDP in 2022, according to the World Bank. Agriculture and industry also play significant roles in Brazil's economic growth. Despite some high-growth periods like 2010 to 2012, Brazil's average growth over the past 35 years has been less than 3%.


Ranked as the globe's tenth-largest economic powerhouse and commanding a formidable gross domestic product of $1.92 trillion, Brazil stands tall as the paramount economic force in Latin America. Having once surged among the swiftest-growing economies until 2012, Brazil's economic trajectory took an altered course, grappling with a complex web of challenges that left an indelible mark on its growth trajectory. The subsequent decline in growth momentum led Brazil into a recessive phase in 2014, only to gradually regain its footing with a modest recovery after that.

The year 2018 bore witness to Brazil's GDP expanding by a mere margin, surpassing the 1% threshold. Beyond navigating the intricacies of moderate economic expansion, the nation has also waged a formidable battle against the corroding effects of corruption. This battle eroded the investment climate and the confidence of private investors.

Meanwhile, the dual specters of depressed commodity prices and sluggish demand have cast their shadows, exacerbating Brazil's challenges. Simultaneously, grappling with elevated inflation and interest rates added further complexity to the nation's economic landscape.

Growth Trajectories

Economic expansion patterns in Brazil have displayed a cadence of unpredictability, oscillating between epochs of remarkable upswings and intermittent decelerations. These variations have resulted in an intricate growth landscape, wherein despite intermittent periods of commendable growth, the cumulative average over the expanse of 35 years, commencing from 1980, remains subduedly below the 3% threshold.

Amidst these undulating growth trends, Brazil has notched notable achievements. Particularly, the interval spanning from 2003 to 2012 witnessed consistent economic progress, concurrently marked by the amelioration of impoverishment levels and a tangible narrowing of income disparities within the nation. As per the assessment of the World Bank, the financial standing of the bottom 40% of the populace experienced an average real-term ascent of 7.1% between 2003 and 2014, juxtaposed against a 4.4% aggregate income escalation across the entire population. The configuration of Brazil's economic composition mirrors the ascendancy of its service sector, commanding an impressive 58% proportion of the GDP.

Concomitantly, the industrial segment stands as the secondary pillar of the economy, contributing to just under a fifth of the GDP. Concurrently, the agricultural sector has persistently constituted around 5% of the nation's GDP since the 1990s.

Agricultural Sector

Brazil's trajectory from a net food importing entity to emerging as a formidable exporter of agricultural commodities stands as a remarkable spectacle. Although the agricultural domain contributes 6.8% to Brazil's economy quantitatively, its significance transcends mere statistical representation. The dynamic agricultural sector serves as the bedrock supporting the burgeoning agribusiness domain, a linchpin in Brazil's economic evolution across time.

Numerous catalysts have spurred the augmentation and diversification of output and exports in the spheres of agriculture and agribusiness. Prominent among these are cutting-edge technology infusion, agricultural research breakthroughs, strategic governmental investment in agriculture, and the pioneering exploration of new farming territories since the 1970s.

Noteworthy upticks in both agricultural and livestock production have graced Brazil's landscape, particularly gaining momentum in the 1990s and experiencing a secondary impetus around the cusp of the millennium in 2000.

As of 2023, the agricultural sector accounted for over 15% of the labor force, according to Brazil's latest agricultural census. The country's key agricultural yields and export items encompass coffee, soybeans, sugar, beef, poultry, orange juice, and maize.


Brazil's industrial domain stands as an exemplar of diversification and refinement. The zenith of industrial activity's expansion coincided with the unfolding of the import substitution endeavor within the nation. Inceptive attention was directed toward the non-durable consumer goods sector, succeeded by the durable goods industry in the 1960s. The progression reached its pinnacle when the importation of essential raw materials and capital assets gained momentum during the latter half of the 1970s.

The import substitution industrialization (ISI) strategy reached its culmination by the dawn of the 1980s. The ensuing era witnessed robust government initiatives to further propel the industrial sector's growth. Brazil's industrial ascent attained its zenith during the 1970s and 1980s, tapering to a more measured pace throughout the 1990s.

Prominently, Brazil commands a sophisticated industrial landscape encompassing petroleum refining, automotive engineering, cement production, iron and steel forging, chemical synthesis, and aerospace prowess. Complementing these sectors is the pivotal role played by the food and beverage manufacturing subdomain, buttressed by accessible labor and abundant raw materials.

The tally of daily oil production in Brazil for the year 2020, inclusive of crude, petroleum derivatives, and biofuels, securing the nation's position as the globe's eighth-largest oil producer. Consequently, the industrial sector's contribution to the GDP underwent a gradual contraction from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, stabilizing to a large extent since the latter era. Manifesting as a significant subset of the industrial realm, manufacturing contributes around 17% to Brazil's GDP.

Dominant Service Sector

The preeminence of Brazil's services sphere takes center stage, constituting a commanding share of nearly 58% of the nation's gross domestic product. As agriculture and industry's influence receded over time, the service domain assumed the mantle, contributing over 50% to the GDP since the 1990s. During this juncture, the service sector exhibited a well-established landscape, encompassing subsets like hospitality, financial services, retail trade, and personal and professional services.

Standing as the chief employer for the nation's labor force, the service sector's sway expanded significantly. Commencing at approximately 62% in 2000, this employment dimension steadily ascended to 65% and now commands a staggering 70% of the national workforce. Workforce engagement is spread across diverse sectors, encompassing hospitality, finance, repair facilities, and information technology, alongside bureaucratic functions at both national and local levels, public utilities, and specialized agencies.

The financial sector assumes a paramount role within Brazil's services landscape. Brazilian banks weathered the 2008 financial crisis adeptly in a notable display of resilience. This sector is pivotal in fueling substantial financing for ambitious mining, aerospace, and industrial endeavors. Complementing financial services, travel and tourism stand as integral service sector components. The direct GDP contribution from this subset hovered around 6% as of 2021. This encompasses generated revenues from establishments such as hotels, travel agencies, airlines, restaurants, and ancillary supportive ventures.


Emerging anew from the challenges and economic downturn witnessed in 2014, Brazil stands poised for a rejuvenated chapter. Guided by foresight, the nation is orchestrating imperative reforms aimed at charting a promising path for future expansion. In this pursuit, bolstering productivity, enhancing competitiveness, and fostering robust investments converge as pivotal prerequisites to underpin the trajectory of forthcoming growth rates.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
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