China is investing big in Brazil but not how you’d imagined

Brazil and China are the world’s foremost emerging markets. Brazil’s political turmoil and the economic downturn in the last to years didn’t seem to change China’s will to invest into the largest South American economy.

China’s investments varies from region to region. In on of my previous posts I mentioned how China is investing in Africa, not only in infrastructure projects e.g. building highways in Tanzania and electricity projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also financing the first African metro system in Addis Abba in Ethiopia.

With Brazil there is a very different story. Although there has been some investment in infrastructure – the most prominent is the construction of the “Grain Railway” connecting the grain production region in the centre of Brazil to one of biggest ports in the South East. – China’s interest in Brazil have been in other sectors.

Telecom giant gets even bigger

Chinese telecom giant China Mobile, already has 870 million customers, is looking to buy the mobile division of Oi, the largest telecommunications company in Brazil and South America, according to report in The China Daily.

Already holding negotiations with Anatel – the Brazilian Telecommunications authority – China Mobile would have another 41 million Brazilian mobile subscribers if the deal goes through.

Oi filled for bankruptcy in 2016 and if the deal goes ahead, China Mobile will have to pay USD$ 3.5 billion in fines from Oi to Anatel. This also would be the first time a Chinese telecom buys another telecom outside China.

Ride-sharing: China knows best

From bikes to umbrellas for hire, China seems to have taken the sharing economy to the next level.

Chinese ride-sharing company Didi have been Uber’s worst nightmare in China. Didi grew so much that Uber never really took off there. In fact, Didi is making Uber’s life much harder in other countries too.

Dubbed as the “Anti-Uber alliance”, Didi invested in Lyft in the US, Ola in India and Grab in South East Asia. And with Brazil is no different.

Earlier this year Didi announced its investment with Brazilian ride-share 99. Formerly know as 99Taxi, the company was founded in 2012 is already much bigger than Uber in Brazil. 99 is present in 550 cities in the country with 140,000 registered drivers and over 10 million app downloads. That dwarfs Uber that is only present in 30 cities.

Main photo: taxis in Rio de Janeiro – Pablo Jacob / Agência O Globo

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3 Thoughts to “China is investing big in Brazil but not how you’d imagined”

  1. Dear Ana Paula, thanks for sharing your article. Keep the good work. Cheers, EK

  2. Hi Ana Paula, interesting news pieces.
    By the way, Didi just bought 99. Even more pressure on Uber!

    The ride-hailing and ride-sharing fever continues…


  3. […] The increase of interest in Brazil represents a significant change for Beijing´s foreign policy. Since 2005, China has loaned more than US$ 140 Billions to Latin America — almost half of that to Venezuela [2]. Increasingly, though, Beijing is diversifying away from Venezuela and other traditional allies in the region, such as Ecuador, into countries with a sounder financial footing and greater strategic possibilities; thus, Beijing´s focus shifted to Brazil. The partnership works as a marriage between two emerging economic powers — China, the fast-rising industrial, economic, and political leader, and Brazil, the agricultural and natural resources powerhouse. Investing in Brazil supports Chinese strategy to export to other countries in Latin America and the two countries form a natural match. […]

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