THERE is more to Brazil than football, carnival and questionable waxing techniques, writes Nynzi Maung.

As has been well reported in recent years, it is a country with a vibrant economy, bristling with opportunity and making every effort to throw open its doors to foreign businesses.

Companies looking to export to BRIC markets often focus on the concentrated business populations.

It’s time businesses began broadening their horizons and look outwards towards expanding landscapes, particularly in Brazil.

It is a mantra for folk at North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), but how often are we at pains to point out that foreign businesses don’t have to start in London. The North East of England is ripe with growth opportunities.

The same is true of Brazil.

Ask any Brit business what they know about Brazil and the answer will probably involve the word Rio.

The more business savvy will mention Sao Paulo, while backpackers (and football coaches) will talk about Manaus and the Amazon.

However, you’re unlikely to find many that know a lot about the Brazilian North-East.

The same is true even of Brazilians.

Domestic stereotypes of undeveloped cities, poor infrastructure and abject poverty couldn’t be further from today’s North-East reality.

The British relationship with Recife, a city of nearly five million people, state capital of Pernambuco and economic hub of North-East Brazil, started back in 1808, the year the Portuguese court transferred to Brazil and when Britain opened one of the first consulates in Latin America in the city.

UK influence was everywhere.

Our companies ran major local industries, built railways and urban infrastructure and transmitted sugar prices back to London on one of the first transatlantic sub-sea cables, which we installed.

We established social clubs and introduced football to the region, leading to the creation of many local teams.

North-East Brazil is once again undergoing an economic transformation and opportunities for British firms to do business here have never been more widespread.

In the same way that in the UK, London isn’t always the best option for starting out in business, second tier Brazilian cities such as Recife in the North-East of the country offer less competition, considerably cheaper setup, affordable labour costs and easier access for UK firms than the established centres of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Following on from highly successful visits to Russia and India, Access Brazil will be sponsoring a market visit designed to support North East businesses interested in trading with Brazil, from November 24 until November 28.

A travel grant of £1,000 is available for eligible companies.

Please get in touch to learn more about the Access Brazil market visit and the ERDF funded Access Programme.

Contact me on 08450-768391 or email

The Access Programme project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013.

Nynzi Maung, heads up the ERDF-funded NECC Access Programme