The European Union has been around since the late 1940s in one form or another. The concept behind the EU is, countries that do business together are less likely to go to war with each other. There are twenty-eight members of the European Union, but that number dropped to twenty-seven when the United Kingdom voted to leave the group in June. The EU has been good for Europe because it opened borders and created a single currency. But the single currency called the euro hasn’t lived up to expectations. Britain never embraced the euro. The pound sterling has always been the currency of choice. But the vote to leave sent the pound to a three-year low against the euro.
When Flavio Maluf, the chairman of construction material supplier, Eucatex, started to translate all the events that are happening in Europe and Britain, he decided that the Brexit decision might help boost the economy of his Portuguese homeland. Britain has never done much business with Brazil through the years. Import duties and fees made the prices too high. But the UK is going to need a few new trading partners, and Brazil needs to replace some of the export business it lost when China’s economy hit the wall and imploded. There is talk of a bilateral trade agreement with the UK when all the details of departure from the European Union are finalized. If Brazil and the UK do sign a trade agreement, Eucatex’s export business would increase.
Even though the economy of Brazil is in the worst recession in more than 100 years, Eucatex is still doing more business than ever thanks to Maluf’s decision to diversify the company’s product line. There is a demand for Portuguese ceiling tiles made from eucalyptus wood in Spain, Portugal, and other European countries. The Portuguese are big supporters of Brazilian products and Maluf is hoping some of that support will rub-off on the British.
But trying to translate what is happening behind the closed doors of the European Union in Belgium isn’t Maluf’s job. He is spending his time cultivating new friends in Britain. Check out more of what Flavio’s done by reading some of his other contributions to Exame. Flavio is often called upon to break down the Brazilian business of the day.