- By Region
Brazil is mulling curbs on Chinese cellphone imports as Latin America’s largest economy steps up the protection of its market against what it alleges are unfairly priced foreign goods.
The ministry of development, trade and industry is investigating claims by Brazilian cellphone producers that their Chinese counterparts are dumping cheap handsets on the market.
“These are being sold here below the cost of production,” said Abinee, the Brazilian association of electrical and electronics industries. “We can’t compete.”
The move follows other measures by Brazil to curb cheap imports from China as one of the world’s newest and most important trading partnerships becomes more adversarial.
Brazil’s economic growth over the past decade has been fuelled by Chinese imports of its major commodities, including soymeal complex, iron ore and other products.
But Brazilian industry complains that it is being swamped by imports of Chinese manufactured goods, which have become even cheaper with the strengthening of the Latin American country’s currency, the real, against the dollar.
In one of its strongest moves, Brazil sharply increased a tax affecting imported cars produced outside of the South American Mercosur trade region and Mexico last year – a measure that followed a flood of Chinese-made vehicles into the country.
According to the website of Global Trade Alert, which tracks anti-dumping and other international trade measures, China’s trading partners in the so-called “Brics” group of fast-growing large developing countries – Brazil, Russia and India – are also among the most aggressive users of measures against its imports.
In a report published in November, Global Trade Alert found that Russia and India ranked second and third while Brazil ranked seventh after the UK, Germany and France in a list of nations implementing the most measures affecting China’s commercial interests. Argentina took first place.
Abinee said Brazil’s electrical and electronics sector expected sales last year to have reached nearly R$135bn (US$75bn) but about R$40bn of this was from imports, an increase of almost 15 per cent.
The association said imports of mobile phones were estimated to have more than doubled to 15m units last year and now comprised about 20 per cent of the market.
These phones were entering Brazil with prices of between $10 and $15, a cost that the association described as “completely beyond reality” in Brazil.
For this reason, domestic production of cellphones had fallen since 2009 in spite of overall growth in the market.
Brazilian exports of handsets had also declined from 25m in 2008 to an estimated 7m for last year, the association said.