By Luis David Días Ibarra, Sidera’s LATAM Liaison
Being the fourth largest medical population globally and the first in Latin America makes Brazil the biggest regional healthcare hub. The country spends more than 9.6% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
When looking at the Brazilian market, it is relevant to stress two pieces of information:
- In 2017, the Brazilian biopharmaceutical and biotechnology market reached the USD 18 billion mark.
- The demand for telemedicine is rapidly growing for essential monitoring and assisting patients. A recent study published by the Regional Center for Studies for the Development of the Information Society (CETIC) showed that at least half of the Brazilian population, covered by Brazil’s public system, used telemedicine tools over the past 12 months.
Furthermore, we must remember that Brazil’s 27 states make up an area of around 3.3 million square miles, making Brazil larger than the contiguous US by approximately 300,000 square miles. The national logistics infrastructure also includes 38 cargo airports and 36 cargo ports. Furthermore, a big part of Brazil’s population, including a large chunk of the people living far away –in rural areas and away from the primary healthcare centers– represents an opportunity for the development and increasing use of telemedicine.
From a macroeconomic perspective, in recent months, the Brazilian Real (BRL) has been appreciated against the American Dollar (USD), surging around 20% during 2022, making US exports cheaper and more accessible.
BRAZILIAN HEALTH NETWORK
As you are already aware, Brazil is the number one healthcare market in Latin America. Brazil has approximately 6,642 hospitals; nearly 63% are private institutions (around 50 million people use private health insurance); 96 million use supplementary healthcare services, and the country counts with 532,645 hospital beds.
On the other hand, Brazil’s Universal Healthcare System (Sistema Unico de Saúde – SUS, for its acronym in Portuguese) provides care for around 70% of the Brazilian population. In addition, through the SUS, the government delivers free medication, medical diagnostics, treatment and promotes nationwide vaccination campaigns.
When looking at the leading players in the sector, the Brazilian government is the top buyer of healthcare services and products that, in turn, supplies them to the public healthcare system. In that sense, exporters should understand that it is essential to have a top-quality product when exporting to Brazil, especially when attempting to sell to the government, making it highly relevant to acquire the necessary permits and required registrations.
TAX POLICY IN BRAZIL
Brazil is a federal republic, and the government has different levels of taxation, as follows: federal taxes, state taxes, and municipal taxes.
Concerning federal taxes, the first on a long chain of applied taxes is the tariff on imported goods between 0% and 35%. Additionally, importers also bear the Tax on Industrialized Goods which is between 0% and 15%. The subsequent tax in the chain is the tax for Program Social Integration, which is 2.1%; and finally, the Contribution for the Financing on Social Security, which is a 9.65% tax.
In the case of State taxes, companies must pay the tax on the Circulation of Goods and Transportation and Communication Services ranging from 4% to 20%, depending on the state.
E-COMMERCE IN THE HEALTHCARE MARKET
Like in other domains, e-commerce has impacted and changed the way companies sell products and services in Brazil. It has helped exporters connect with clients quickly in the last years, boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first half of 2021, the number of products sold grew to 31% in the entire market
For 2021 alone, Brazilians spent USD 26 billion on goods acquired through e-commerce platforms, being the 15th largest market globally and demonstrating a solid demand and logistics to deliver all these products.
Even though the healthcare industry is not yet among the top users of e-commerce platforms, it has demonstrated to be an exciting channel to sell products and services in Brazil. But, as previously advised, companies must work through complicated international trade and customs procedures, facilitating the importation process and reducing the risks of product returns.
REGIONAL MARKET BENEFIT
Brazil alone represents 40% of Latin America’s economy. The country is well-positioned to serve exporters as a springboard to other South American countries. Through its diverse RTA’s (Regional Trade Agreements), Brazil’s interconnectedness allows easy access to other MERCOSUR members such as Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
Finally, we invite you to explore the Brazilian market, which is, as seen, a big hub for healthcare companies in Latin America. We encourage global exporters to participate in appropriate trade shows like the upcoming HOSPITALAR Trade Show for relevant access and network opportunities. The trade show is currently in its 27th edition and will take place from May 17 to 20 in the city of São Paulo.
 Soure: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/146d0dea-en.pdf?expires=1649695319&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=9AF5A92205123DED6E0644BD247C93DC
 Source: Regional Center for Studies for the Development of the Information Society (CETIC), 4th edition. Available here: https://cetic.br/pt/pesquisa/tic-covid-19/indicadores/
 As a side note, Brazil as a founding member of the MERCOSUR, can enjoy import duty reductions via the Ex-Tariff procedure. These exemptions can play a very relevant role in reducing the overall cost of an imported product. This is mostly due to the fact that the import tariff is the first tax in a long chain of taxes that must be paid. Additionally, the other taxes are calculated based on the CIF price of the product plus the import duty. Therefore, if one is able to reduce the impact of the import tariff on a product, it ends up reducing the cost along the chain of taxes.