Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Formerly among the most protectionist of the G-20 countries, Brazil has made ample progress toward liberalization in the past year.

According to a special report by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the scale of trade liberalization of G-20 countries, Brazil has moved from the most protectionist country on the list to the economy that adopted the most measures to facilitate trade in the past nine months.

From October 2016 to May 2017, Brazil adopted a total of nine measures to reduce tariffs and facilitate commerce. In addition, Brazil has implemented four other actions to reduce import barriers.

Regarding trade defense measures, the WTO report pointed out that there was a “noticeable reduction” in the cases initiated by Brazil. In 2015, the country was the third most protectionist of the G-20, with 23 anti-dumping measures. In 2016, there were only 11 cases, placing Brazil in the eighth position.

In the report, WTO suggested that the G-20 as a group should reiterate its commitment to mutually open trade as a key to economic growth. The organization’s concern about protectionism is motivated by slowing growth in international trade: in 2016, world exports logged the worst expansion result since 2009, with an increase of only 1.3 percent.

Brazil’s exports, however, are increasing steadily, and the country has been doing well in international trade despite the economic challenges it has faced since 2014. Last year, the country enjoyed a trade surplus of $47.7 billion—a record high. The forecast is that by the end of this year, the surplus will be around $60 billion, based on the results for 2017’s first two quarters, when Brazil registered a trade surplus of $42.5 billion.

The $126.5 billion value of Brazil’s exports in the first two quarters was 19 percent higher than the total for the first half of 2016, while the $83.9 billion value of imports was 7 percent higher than the prior year. More important than these numbers, though, is the importance of manufacturing in Brazil’s international trade, and this has been growing too, reflecting an increase of 12 percent over last year, with the automotive and aerospace industries as the top contributing sources.

To keep improving its export growth, Brazil needs to further modernize its manufacturing base. With the U.S. being Brazil’s second-largest trading partner, it is encouraging for Wisconsin companies that according to the results from the first half of 2017, the U.S. still enjoys a trade surplus with Brazil, indicating the market opportunities that exist.