COVID-19: Camex abolishes tax on mask resin

Used in the manufacture of face masks, polypropylene resin will be imported tax-free, the Brazilian Economy Ministry’s Foreign Commerce Chamber decided. The tax break will encompass approximately 77 thousand tons of the products and will be effective for three months.

The decision includes the resin on Mercosur’s list of exceptions to the common external tariff. The measure was necessary, Camex reported, because the resin, which also has a number of industrial applications, is facing a shortage in the international market due to the increase in the demand for masks.

The measure will be in effect seven days after a resolution on the topic is published in the country’s Official Gazette, which should happen today (Mar. 31). According to the Economy Ministry, the government will continue to observe the market to ascertain whether further measures will be required to guarantee the supply of resin.

The decision was unveiled during an extraordinary meeting held Monday (29) by the Executive Management Committee (Gecex), but the move was not made public until yesterday.

On Monday, Camex also eliminated the import taxes of 65 drugs and pieces of medical equipment used in the treatment of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Agência Brasil

Central Bank clears WhatsApp transfers

The Central Bank granted the first authorizations for the operation of the payment system via WhatsApp on Tuesday. Transfers between people are the first to be cleared, but permission to use the application to make purchases in stores is still under review. In a statement, WhatsApp said it is “in final preparations” to make the service available “as soon as possible,” but did not specify a date. Transfers between people will be free. Payments in stores, not yet enabled by the Central Bank, should follow the rules of accreditation of shops – just as it happens in card transactions.

Source: Valor International

AES Brasil moves to B3’s governance segment

AES Brasil, one of the largest renewable energy generators in the country, migrated this week to stock exchange B3’s Novo Mercado, a listing segment for companies committed to adopt corporate governance practices. AES also carried out a corporate reorganization. Subsidiary AES Tietê now concentrates the generator’s already operational assets and is under the umbrella of the new holding company AES Brasil, which also controls special purpose entities, SPEs, dedicated to greenfield ventures. AES Brasil’s strategic plan is to expand its renewable generation park with a focus on wind and solar energy in order to reduce hydro plants in its portfolio.

Source: Valor International

Brazil generates over 400 thousand new formal jobs in February

Brazil generated 401,639 new job posts in February this year, the difference between 1,694,604 admissions and 1,292,965 layoffs in the formal labor market. The growth is the highest for the month, according to the country’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes.

“Once again, the vigor of Brazil’s economy, the resilience of the Brazilian economy, has come as a surprise,” he said during an online presser on the publication of the General Record of the Employed and Unemployed (CAGED). “New jobs total 400 thousand, a record for February. It goes to show us that we are definitely on the right track from the viewpoint of the recovery of the economic activity,” he added.

February, however, does not encompass the period of more rigorous restrictions on activities, imposed by a number of states and municipalities in a bid to tackle the new wave of COVID-19 cases.

In this connection, Guedes argues, the government’s focus should be mass vaccination for the people, “especially for the 40 million Brazilians in the informal labor market,” which is the group of most vulnerable workers, benefited by the federal government’s emergency allowance.

According to the minister, approximately ten percent of new admissions—173 thousand posts—fall under services, which is also the most sensitive sector for informal workers. “We need to vaccinate in mass so that Brazilian informal workers—the nearly 40 million invisible ones—do not have to make the cruel choice of either going out [for work] and being infected, or staying in and not having what to eat,” he said.

Brazil’s formal workers added up to 40,022,748 in February—a change of 1.01 percent from the month before. Year-to-date, a surplus of 659,780 jobs were registered, stemming from the 3,269,417 admissions minus 2,609,637 layoffs.

Source: Agência Brasil

Raízen hires investment banks for IPO

Raízen, joint venture between Cosan and Shell, hired investment banks BTG Pactual, Bank of America, Citi and Credit Suisse to do its IPO, according to Reuters. The transaction may raise R$13 billion. Raízen, whose revenue reached R$120 billion in 2020, recently bought rival Biosev from Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), a deal that in addition to increase its scale will allow the company to enter the segment of renewable energy, of great appeal to investors focused in ESG assets.

Source: Valor International

ArcelorMittal to increase steel production in Santa Catarina

World giant ArcelorMittal is resuming an investment of $350 million to install a new production line of steel sheets to be used mainly in the manufacture of automobiles, in São Francisco do Sul, Santa Catarina. With this expansion, the complex will have capacity to produce 2.2 million tonnes of different galvanized steel products per year. Inaugurated in 2004, the unit has already received investments in excess of $500 million, including expansions, product diversification and technological updating.

Source: Valor International

Brazilian meat exporters need to adapt to new Chinese market reality

China will remain a major importer of meats in coming years, despite investing to recover its pig herd and to strengthen the poultry production chain. Importing volumes, however, tend to shrink as of the middle of the decade and in order not to lose market share to other exporters, such as the United States, Brazilian slaughterhouses will have to adopt new commercial strategies, preferably with more aggressive local presence, according to a recent study by German consultancy Roland Berger. These new strategies include investments to improve quality, adaptation to growing health and environmental requirements and partnerships with Chinese players. Roland Berger projects that the Chinese meat consumption will grow 2.2% per year until 2025.

Source: Valor International

Airports auction tests investor’s appetite for Brazil

The auction of 22 federal airports, with delivery of bids scheduled for next Thursday, will test the attractiveness of the industry at a time of unprecedented crisis in aviation and uncertainty about the speed of recovery of passenger demand. In an attempt to maintain investor interest, the minimum fixed concession payments was reduced to below half of the initially proposed values, already capturing part of the negative effects of the pandemic on the flow of passengers expected in the concessions. A consensus, however, is that the premiums will be way below those seen in the last auction, with an average of 986%.

Source: Valor International

Private sector pressures government for authorization to buy vaccines

Business leaders Carlos Wizard, owner of Sforza group, and Luciano Hang, owner of retailer Havan, flew to Brasília on Thursday to try and convince the government to relax the law allowing the private sector to buy vaccines. Together with other executives, they are willing to buy 10 million doses to vaccinate employees. Under the law recently passed, the private sector can buy vaccines but has to donate them to the Unified Health System (SUS) until all priority groups of the population and health professionals are vaccinated. “We are not going to compete with SUS. In our view, we will streamline the vaccination process for part of the active population,” Mr. Wizard said.

Source: Valor International

Panvel to open more pharmacies targeting lower income customers

Dimed, owner of pharmacy chain Panvel, plans to open 65 stores in 2021, focusing especially on street units and stores targeting lower economic classes, which should account for 20% to 25% of the planned openings, Antônio Napp, Chief Financial and Investor Relations Officer, says. Panvel ended 2020 with 473 stores, 29 more than in 2019. The closure of shopping malls because of the pandemic affected the company’s results in 2020, when net profit fell 22% to R$64 million.

Source: Valor International