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Doing business in Brazil, things you need to know

There is strong evidence to suggest that many UK businesses are not aware of the size and level of opportunity of doing business in Brazil. According to the Department for International Trade, Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and is the 7th largest economy in the World (as at Jan 2017). What’s more, 400 out of the world’s 500 biggest companies operate in Brazil.

Whilst there are many benefits to doing business in Brazil there are also many challenges.

Brazil and the UK have historic business ties stretching back 200 years with the most popular UK exports to Brazil including machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals and electrical appliances. Opportunities for UK businesses include Oil and Gas, Healthcare, Water, Marine, Education, Mining, Food and Drink, Agri-Tech and Technology. It is worth reading this helpful guide if you are considering tapping into the vast opportunities and doing business with Brazil.

Many Brazilians do not speak English so it would be polite to learn at least a few helpful phrases of Brazilian Portuguese before your meetings. Obviously the better you are the more respect you will gain. Language courses usually include some Cultural Awareness training to help you while doing business and travelling around. When booking your Brazilian Portuguese for Business lessons, ask your provider to include this aspect in the course programme.


Courtesy of Today Translations, here are some tips to help you do business in Brazil:

Business meetings

  • Brazilians pride themselves on being in control so hide your impatience and frustrations in order to improve your relationship. Good eye contact is important
  • It can sometimes take a while to get a deal agreed as Brazilian business is hierarchical, therefore, the more senior people make the final decisions
  • Brazilians negotiate with people not companies so it is key to build a friendly relationship from the beginning
  • It is custom to book a meeting at least 2 weeks in advance. Allow extra time in case the meeting is delayed
  • Constant interruption during conversations is seen as the norm
  • Brazilian working hours are usually 8.30am-5pm with an hour or 2 for lunch. Businesses are usually open from 9am-7pm. Negotiations quite often take place over lunch.
  • Brazilians are quite fashion conscious and tend to dress smartly


  • A kiss on each cheek for ladies is the norm with a handshake for men. Hugging and back slapping are also quite normal
  • Brazilians speak in close proximity and with a lot of physical contact
  • When you meet someone for the first time it is polite to say “muito prazer” (my pleasure). You can also use expressions such as “tudo bem” and “como vai” to say hello once you know them. Using their language is seen as respectful
  • Praise the beauty of Brazil during conversations and talk about football and music but don’t mention Argentina, politics, poverty or religion. It is also seen as impolite to ask personal questions such as marital status, age and religion.

Good luck with your exporting journey – Boa sorte!


To book Brazilian Portuguese for Business language courses call us now on +44 (0)203 036 0770 or contact us online

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