Brazil IT: The Opportunity to Leap Forward

In his last State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama praised innovation, education, and infrastructure as imperative for the United States to face strong competition from emerging economies. He said such countries are ready to compete with the U.S. thanks to the technological revolution that is changing the way people live, work, and do business.

A study published in 2010 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows that China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan) exported in 2008 nearly $431 billion in IT manufactured products. India has jumped from $1 billion in 1990 to $60 billion in 2009 in IT-BPO services.

Brasscom (the Brazilian Association of Information Technology and Communication Companies) recently accompanied Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff to China. The invitation from the President reflects the government’s understanding that the Brazilian IT industry is not only essential to the competitiveness of the national economy but can also make a positive contribution to trade. It is time for Brazil to leverage its excellence in IT and to focus on removing barriers in order to leap forward on the global IT stage.

Brazil has a sophisticated and innovative IT market. Our advanced IT systems in finance, e-government, flex-fuel engines, agricultural production management, oil and gas reserve visualization, and manufacturing automation are assets in a global economy, though much of them need to make progress in the global market.

The financial system in Brazil is one of the most advanced in the world, a result of the high level of investment in IT — around $11.5 billion a year. Using technology, bank transfers are made in real time, more than 403 million credit and debit cards are in circulation, 32 billion bank transactions are performed per year, 106 million trades were made on the Bovespa stock exchange in 2010, among others relevant examples in this sector.

Electronic ballot boxes make it possible for more than 135 million Brazilian voters, spread across 5,564 municipalities, to get to know the election results three hours after the ballots are closed. This is unparalleled in the world. In e-government, Brazil is recognized for its completely electronic income tax returns, which this year should total 24 million forms.

Flex-fuel engine technology, known worldwide, is the result of the use of software developed in Brazil, which allows gasoline or ethanol to be used as vehicle fuel. The agricultural sector is full of technology that increases productivity. From geo-referencing to crop management software, taking in weather forecasting from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and the National Meteorological Institute (INMET), Brazil has been able to make good use of information technology, which contributes, along with advanced techniques in planting and harvesting, to the fact that Brazil is responsible for 25% of global food trade.

Brazil has a growing economic, political, and technological importance. The country is the seventh largest economy in the world and the seventh largest ICT market. Over the next two decades, the international scenario will see several changes, such as an aging population in major world economies such as Europe and Japan. Furthermore, by 2020, the combined GDP of the five BRICS countries will have reached $25 trillion. The new trends in technology, based on mobility, cloud computing, software and services on a broadband infrastructure, and social media will form a global IT market whose worth will overtake its current level of $1.5 trillion and reach $3 trillion.

The recent developments with the U.S. and China are opening up room for the exchange of knowledge, partnerships, and the expansion of trade in technology and software and services exports. This will benefit these countries’ economies and strengthen the global economy.