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Brazil’s Textile Imports Rise; Exports Tumble Amidst Economic Troubles

As South American markets become increasingly important in the global economy, Brazil has become one of the continent’s leading importers and exporters.

Data from the Brazilian Association of Textile and Apparel (ABIT) shows the country imported textiles valued at more than $5 billion from January 2013 to September.

Brazil clothing imports were up 4.5 percent over the same period last year — January to August.

Exports, however, dropped 1.4% for the same period.

Retail sales volume increased 3.4% over the previous year.

Production of textiles fell 3.1%, and clothing production declined by 2.2% over the same period of 2012.

Brazil has become an increasingly vocal nation on the world stage, especially when it comes to free trade agreements that impact its contracting textile and apparel industries. It has been particularly critical of the Pacific Alliance, a new free trade agreement that has already been signed by the presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

Antonio Patriota, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, unfavorably contrasted the PA with the Mercosur group, calling the latter “full of life and dynamic” while diminishing the former as “an effort which brings together countries with similar characteristics, but not an alliance, or a free trade zone or a customs union, much less an integration project such is the case of Mercosur.”

The agreement could have significant reverberations for the Brazilian economy. Though it has received scant media coverage, the breadth of the agreement is considerable. With a combined population of 204 million (36 percent of Latin America), a GDP of $1.7 trillion (35 percent of the region), the bloc will encompass more than half of all trade for Latin America.