Brazil is one of the world’s foremost developing economies. It is the largest and most populous country in South America, with vast natural resources and a large labour pool. It is also a global leader in several sectors, possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors. The country ranks first or second in the world production of coffee, soybeans and sugarcane and first in world production of iron ore. In fact, Brazil is an important global source of a number of minerals, including bauxite, nickel, zinc, manganese, semiprecious stones and gold. It is also largely self sufficient in terms of energy production, generating over 80% of its electricity from renewable sources, mainly hydropower.
The country ranks 10th among all countries globally in terms of GDP, ahead of resource rich countries Russia and Australia but just below developed countries such as Canada and Italy. In recent years, Brazil has generated large current account surpluses and positive GDP growth in the range of 2-3% per annum. This contrasts with the financial crisis suffered by Brazil, not unlike many other emerging economies, in the late 1990s. After crafting a fiscal adjustment program and pledging progress on structural reform, Brazil received a $41.5 billion IMF-led international support program in November 1998.
In January 1999, the Brazilian Central Bank announced that the real would no longer be pegged to the US dollar. Since 2000, Brazil had made steady progress in increasing its trade balance with the rest of the world, leading to record trade surpluses, higher GDP, declining inflation and interest rates and higher foreign exchange reserves.