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Tourists take picture in front of Brazil's most famous landmark, Christ, the Redeemer statue, (VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Tourists take picture in front of Brazil's most famous landmark, Christ, the Redeemer statue, (VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)


How to seize opportunity in Brazil Add to ...

When it comes to looking to manufacture overseas, most companies these days head straight for Asia.

Not so GeoTrac of frequently updated business reports from third-party consultancies (including taxation and investment guides), as well as its own data.

It’s also worth searching for trade reports from consultancies like PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and the Economist Intelligence Unit, which can help identify opportunities and flag potential trouble spots.

On the Brazilian side

The Brazilian government’s international trade resources are focused on BrasilGlobalNet [http://www.brasilglobalnet.gov.br/]/note>, a government portal that provides a breakdown of trade and investment opportunities by state.

The Brazilian consulate in Toronto offers a long list of resources, some of which are dated, but still give a sense of the breadth of agencies ready to assist on the Brazilian side. (The consulate itself has a trade bureau that can assist.)

And the Canada Brazilian Chamber of Commerce [http://brazcanchamber.org/]/note>, with chambers in Toronto and Montreal. offers a roundup of timely news articles, links to trade organization, as well as the event roster and community support that a chamber of commerce provides.

The cultural equation

As always, navigating the nuances of local culture can be a determinant of business success.

Peng-Sang Cau, the chief executive officer of Kingston, Ont.-based Transformix [http://www.transformix.com/]/note>, which makes automation technology for manufacturers, discovered a business culture that was adverse to saying “no” when his company came to open an office in Brazil.

Instead, the company encountered what she describes as “five shades of yes.”

Translating these nuances often falls to – well, a translator. Ms. Cau recommends searching for a veteran translator, who tendsto be more adept at capturing the gist of the conversation, not just the words.

“It’s important that you don’t hire someone young, who will wind up translating what you say verbatim,” she says. “The North American way of speaking is not the Brazilian way of speaking.”

Similarly, GeoTrac’sMr. MacDonald says that it’s hard to overstate the importance of the social end of things in Brazil. A business meeting might be productive, but going out afterwards might prove even more productive. Aalways take that opportunity.

“They want to meet you. They want to know you,” he says.

And that made the hassle of getting visas to visit the country in person fully worth the time and effort, says Mr. MacDonald.

In a relationship-driven business culture, he says, that personal contact simply isn’t optional.

“Do not think you’re going to be successful without meeting them face-to-face,” he says.

Special to The Globe and Mail

This series continues next Monday. Other stories can be found on the Web Strategy section of the Report on Small Business website .

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