Agriculture in Brazil and China: Challenges and Opportunities

Oct 2006
This paper analyzes the asymmetries and complementarities between Brazil's and China's agricultural sectors. Brazil and China are key players in world agriculture. Both countries are among the world's top five producers and exporters of agricultural products and have a significant portion of their population working in agriculture. However, four significant facts profoundly differentiate Brazilian and Chinese agriculture. First, while Brazil has one of the world's most liberal agricultural sectors, Chinese agriculture remains under strong state intervention, particularly in its foreign trade. Second, while the agricultural sector accounts for a very significant portion of Brazil's total exports, in China its share in total foreign sales is almost negligible. Third, while Brazil is a net exporter of agricultural products, China is now a net importer. Finally, while Brazil is the country with the greatest potential to expand its planted area in the world, China's agriculture has little land available for expansion and is in fact under severe pressure from urbanization and the development of other productive sectors.