Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Although factories are under construction, they will not be complete in time to meet the rising demand from Brazil's agriculture sector.

Amid the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil stepped up its imports in some sectors. Foreign purchases increased for items including sanitary equipment and accessories, livestock, pipes, tubes and hoses, wheat, coal, fertilizers, taps, ethylene polymers and electric generators. According to data from the Brazilian Ministry of Economy’s Secretariat for Foreign Trade, through the third week of April 2020, imports to Brazil averaged 609,000 tons a day, up 12% year-over-year, reaching $582 million.

Imports of process industry items—which make up the bulk of imports to Brazil—also climbed by 7%. Pipes, tubes and hoses and their plastic accessories was one of the categories that saw imports increase the most. Brazil also stepped up its purchases of sanitary, piping and heating accessories and equipment and fertilizers.

Brazil’s demand for fertilizers and raw materials for fertilizers is expected to grow by 1.5% to 3% in 2020, despite the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Brazilian Chemical Industry Association, the Brazilian fertilizer sector has grown by 3% to 4% a year throughout the last decade, totaling $10.6 billion in 2019. Domestic production of fertilizers is still quite small compared to the country’s growing demand, and imports account for at least 80% of the fertilizers used in Brazil. Through April 27, the daily average of fertilizer imports for April was 107,420 tons, up 53.33% from a year prior.

Brazilian Fertilizer Mixers Association Executive Director Carlos Florence explained that there are some projects underway in the Amazon and southeastern regions of the country, but considering it takes approximately 10 years from project approval to factory operation, import demand is expected to continue growing, and the challenge for the sector is how to keep up with the volumes produced by the Brazilian agriculture sector, which has seen continuous rapid growth over the last 30 years, exceeding previous records each time it seems capacity has been reached. Since the growth is likely to continue, Wisconsin companies can help meet the demand for fertilizer imports.