Brazil’s business leaders look towards the future

29 November 2018 4 min. read

Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil will undoubtably be one of many contrasts. Bolsinaro has often been called the Trump of the Tropics and in line with Donald Trump’s United States, Brazil will experience a shift away from a liberal-social agenda, whilst bolstering economic incentives. Whilst it stands to be seen the longterm effects of the incoming government’s populist policies, business leaders across the nation are cheering.

In the aftermath of a highly divisive and explosive campaign – which saw the President-elect narrowly survive an assassination attempt – Brazil is now attempting to prepare for the next phase of Brazil’s unwritten legacy.

After Brazil's social and economic shortcomings in the past two decades, the expectations of Brazilian businessmen for their organizations and for the new elected government's first year, show the private sectors enthusiasm about change.

Deloitte asked over 800 business leaders about their expectations for the coming year during the period after the election. The results show that an overwhelming majority believe that the incoming government has the potential to at least partially address the respondents priorities. 

“We present the research Agenda 2019, from Deloitte, which gathers the expectations of entrepreneurs for the country and its business next year, the first of the new government elected,” the firm said on Twitter. “Answered in the light of the end of the electoral cycle, what should be the priorities of the new elected Government and the expectations for its business”.

Priorities for the next government

The global professional services firm evaluated five areas of action, which included; reforms, business activity, public administration, economic activity and social investments. The respondents could identify what should be the government’s top priorities and their sentiment towards business in Brazil with Bolsonaro’s PSL in office. 

In terms of opinion on the new government, 56% of executives, the new government will be able to partially address the priorities chosen by them; 38% bet that it will fully address them. Another 4% do not believe that the new administration will be able to meet their expectations and 2% did not know how to respond.

One of the biggest insights from the survey is the apparent need for tax reform. Brazil’s tax system is extremely complex and burdensome for the country’s economy. It has been attributed to wiping at least 1% GDP of the country and according to the International Tax Review, simplification and reform could see Brazil compete with some of the world’s largest economies. Unsurprisingly then, 93% of the Deloitte survey respondents believe that tax reform should be a priority for the new government.

Priorities for the next government

The survey also identifies that business leaders expect the government to prioritize the fight against corruption (62%), stimulate job creation (80%) and improve and expand Public Private Partnerships (52%). Reflecting the concern with the qualification of the Brazilian employee, the area indicated as a priority to receive social investments is education (84%), public security (77%) and health (65%).

Deloitte’s “Brazilian Agenda 2019” also questioned the business decision makers about what they expect for their own business in 2019, in aspects such as investments, funding, hiring of people and sales. The results also draw a picture of an optimistic private sector flourishing in a positive business environment. Almost all respondents (97%) indicated the intention to invest or implement actions that will develop their business in 2019.

However the business leaders have also sent a strong message to the government saying ‘education is a top priority’. With 71% of respondents putting education and technical training as a priority for the incoming government and 80% saying stimulating job creation will advance the economy, Brazilian bosses want to create a larger job pool.

This is unsurprising seeing that Brazil’s professional workforce is increasingly looking to work and live abroad. Identified earlier this year by The Boston Consulting Group, the vast majority of Brazilians do not see Brazil as the best place to develop their careers. Bolsonaro’s ability to stimulate the economy seems inherent, but his real task will be to retain progressive young professionals in the country.

Related: Brazil’s talent shortage time bomb.