GENEVA — With its burgeoning economy, many brands are looking to make inroads into the Brazilian market, but it isn’t easy.
The South American country’s difficult barriers for exporters were highlighted at a recent review of its trade regime at the World Trade Organization. Trading partners including the U.S., the European Union and China have called on Brazil to put an end to protectionist measures such as tariff hikes and restrictive regulations that hinder international competition and spike business costs.
“U.S. exporters face significant uncertainty in the Brazilian market,” David Shark, deputy U.S. permanent representative to the WTO, said late last month. “This uncertainty is amplified by the frequent changes in tariffs made by the Brazilian government to protect domestic industries from import competition.”
Shark said Brazil should act to liberalize trade “by lowering tariffs” and noted that last October, “Brazil increased tariffs to a maximum of 35 percent on 100 industrial products. These tariff hikes could adversely affect Brazil’s competitiveness.” He said they also “create an unpredictable business environment for importers and exporters, and have a chilling effect on investment.”
Despite recent political unrest that began last month over bus and subway fare hikes in São Paulo and grew into massive nationwide demonstrations against government corruption, high taxes and poor public services, but have since subsided, Brazil, along with Russia, India and China, is among what have been dubbed the BRIC countries, representing the fastest-growing emerging economies.
A report compiled by the WTO for the review shows Brazil’s average applied most favored nation tariff in 2012 was 11.7 percent, up from 11.5 percent in 2008, and points out the manufacturing sector benefits “from the highest tariff protection,” with an average applied tariff of 12 percent, up from 11.8 percent in 2008.
The WTO also reveals that Brazil imposes much higher tariffs on imports of textiles and apparel. In 2012, for 790 textile lines, tariffs averaged 22.7 percent, and for 251 apparel lines, tariffs averaged 35 percent, substantially higher than the 12 percent average for all manufactured goods.
The EU’s WTO ambassador, Angelos Pangratis, also criticized Brazil’s determination “to pursue an increasingly protectionist industrial policy.”
“EU entrepreneurs in Brazil are faced with heavy bureaucracy, complex and not always transparent regulation and legislation, late noticing of changes in import-rate rules and labeling requirements, high transactions costs and unpredictability when dealing with Customs authorities,” Pangratis said.
Countries such as Canada, China and Pakistan were critical of amendments made by Brazil in 2010 that mandate preferential margins of 8 to 25 percent for some goods and services in government procurement for goods produced by Brazilian firms or companies that have invested in Brazil. Under the scheme, textiles and apparel are given a preferential margin of 20 percent over foreign competitors.
Yi Xiaozhun, China’s WTO ambassador, indicated his country’s concerns about Brazil’s heavy use of trade remedies, such as antidumping investigations.
Paulo Estivallet de Mesquita, director-general at Brazil’s ministry of external relations, countered that his country has remained open to trade and noted imports of industrial goods increased at an annual rate of 16.2 percent from 2007 and 2012. In 2012, Brazil’s merchandise exports were $242.5 billion, up from $160.6 billion in 2007, and its imports reached $223.1 billion, up from $120.6 billion.
Last year, exports of textiles were worth $970 million, down from $1.4 billion in 2007, while imports reached $4.2 billion, up from $2.1 billion in 2007. For apparel, exports totaled $242.5 million, down from $321.7 million in 2007, but imports surged to $2.4 billion from $603 million in 2007.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast