Bureaucracy and taxes jam multiple


By FERNANDO CANZIAN, Folha de S. Paulo

Bureaucracy and high tax burden are the “number one” enemies of the 1 largest US multinationals with investments in Brazil. In the opinion of these companies, the two themes lead the so-called “” Brazilian cost ”. And tax simplification should be at the top of the government and National Congress' agenda in 197.
Of the 500 largest North American companies listed by “” Fortune ”magazine, 197 are present in Brazil. An unprecedented survey conducted among them in the USA showed optimistic growth forecasts for Brazil in 2005 and an appetite for new investments.
The survey, obtained exclusively by Folha, has just been completed by the US-Brazil Business Council of the US Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington.
On Thursday, in the American capital, its authors showed the results of the work to the Brazilian Treasury Secretary, Joaquim Levy.
Almost 70% of companies expect Brazil to grow between 3,5% and 5,5% in 2005. For 39% of them, their own businesses will grow above 5,5% this year. And the majority, 56%, intend to increase investments in the country.
However, in the global results of these companies (many of them investing and operating for more than 20 years in the country), Brazil's participation was poor, of exactly 1,87% of global revenue.
Asked about what most inhibits investments and innovation in the country, the Americans gave the same answer that has been mobilizing Brazilian entrepreneurs in an unprecedented way in recent weeks: the high tax burden.
Overall, the survey computed 302.612 formal jobs for US companies in Brazil and total annual revenues of US $ 91 billion (R $ 236 billion).

For Mark Smith, executive vice president of the Brazil-USA Business Council, Brazil's share of less than 2% in the global earnings of these companies has two meanings:
“” It illustrates both the potential space that Brazil can occupy and the realities of pressure from its competing countries for investments, ”says Smith.
In the last two years, Folha evaluated quarterly the balance sheets published in the USA of American multiples with business in Brazil. In general, there was a clear predilection for investments in emerging markets in Asia, especially China and India, to the detriment of Brazil.
In the balance sheets for the last quarter of 2004 sent to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and which analyze the result of last year, the companies demonstrate the same optimism with Brazil captured in the survey.
In comparison with China and India, Brazil gained some ground during 2004.
“” The search result matches 100% with our predictions. And with our complaints. It is difficult to convince the matrix to invest here living with such a high tax burden ”, says Flávio Gomes, general director of the photography division of Kodak Brasil.
Kodak abandoned the sale of professional digital cameras in Brazil because of taxes on imports. In the popular digital segment, the company says that "" it could go better "if the cost of taxes did not stimulate imports" "under-invoiced and under the hood" of several competitors.
Marco Simões, Coca-Cola Brasil's communications director, says that the company "" will take advantage of the current growth wave "to invest in 2005".
In the third quarter of last year, Coca-Cola (which presents its consolidated results in the coming days) grew 14% over the same period in 2003.
Regarding the weight of the tax burden, Simões states that "" the Brazilian is among the highest in the world ". “” Of the R $ 6,6 billion billed in 2003, R $ 2,1 billion, or almost 30%, were consumed in taxes ”, he says.
Antonio Corrêa de Lacerda, president of Sobeet (Brazilian Society for the Study of Transnational Companies and Economic Globalization), affirms that "" everything is going, in 2005, to an optimistic scenario ".
“” The biggest risk is that the government exaggerates the dose of the policy that has contributed, until now, to improve the confidence of companies ”, he says.