Brazil is open for business and is welcoming of
foreign investors, especially American enterprise, a Brazilian judge
said at Samford University Wednesday, Sept. 29.
“Brazil is considered a friendly environment for
foreign investments,” said Maria Cristina Zucchi, a justice of Brazil’s
Sao Paulo State Supreme Court, adding that her nation attracts companies
from all over the world who want to take
advantage of business opportunities.
The Latin American nation, which has the world’s
ninth largest economy, has weathered recent global financial troubles
better than most nations, she said.
During the 2008 economic crisis, for instance,
Brazil was among the last nations to succumb, and the first to revive.
While the global situation reduced Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in
Brazil just as it did in other countries, prospects
look good for recovery, said Zucchi, who attributes part of the quick
recovery to the nation’s conservative micro-economic policies.
Zucchi’s talk on Brazilian law and business was
presented as a feature of Samford’s Brock School of Business
International Business Speaker Series. Zucchi was at Samford Sept.
28-Oct. 1 as the inaugural Distinguished International Scholar
at Cumberland School of Law, where she has been both a student and
teacher in its master of comparative law program. She is one of 14 women
justices on the 360-member Sao Paulo state supreme court.
Starting a business in Brazil is getting easier,
she said. The government has implemented incentives to encourage
national and foreign investments, especially as relate to social and
economic developments, and may involve tax benefits
in less developed parts of the country. Attracting foreign investors to
fund infrastructure projects is a priority, she said.
And although tax regulations can be burdensome,
the tax rules don’t differentiate between national and foreign
businesses. The same is true of many other policies and regulations.
“Whatever impediments there may be, they apply to both
domestic and foreign firms,” said Zucchi, who has been a leader in
legal reform in Brazil.
Zucchi discussed matters specific to various
business sectors, including banking--which some scholars refer to as the
country’s “fourth power,” media and communications, insurance and
The Brazilian insurance sector has been open to
foreign investors since 1996, she said, and a 2007 law eliminated a
state monopoly on foreign insurance companies. While insurance
companies are major business players, they have also caused
additional work for the judiciary, she said.
“There is a concern that some don’t respect
clients’ rights. They just want to earn money,” said Zucchi, adding that
an effort is being made to right the wrongs, “without closing doors
that have been opened.”
While the Brazilian court system has been
overburdened, with about 18 billion “records” waiting to be decided,
efforts have been made to use arbitration and mediation to resolve
disputes more quickly, she said.
Zucchi contrasted aspects of her nation’s civil
law system with America’s legal process. While the U.S. has one
constitution with 27 amendments, Brazil is now on its 8th
constitution. In place for 22 years, the current one
already as 66 amendments. And the constitution is not easy to change,
she said, since each amendment must have approval of three-fifths of the
national legislative body.
Zucchi also spoke to a variety of law classes on
various issues of comparative law. She holds a Master of Comparative Law
degree from Cumberland, which offers the MCL program to non-U.S.
judges, lawyers and academics to gain a perspective
on the U.S. legal system by studying a comparison of laws in the U.S.
and their own country.
An attorney before she was a judge, Zucchi
lectures in the MCL program on the Samford campus each June, and has
been helpful in Brazil on Cumberland’s behalf, said Mike Floyd,
professor and director of international studies at the law