Desindustrialização, aumento da proteção comercial, custos elevados e baixa produtividade têm sido assuntos recorrentes na imprensa e nos debates recentes no Brasil. Dante Aldrighi e eu acabamos de concluir um estudo para a United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), em que esses e outros temas são abordados, mas a partir de uma perspectiva de longo prazo da economia e da industrialização brasileiras, desde o século XIX até hoje. A versão preliminar pode ser obtida na seção de papers, aqui. Uma parte da introdução apresenta a perspectiva geral adotada:
“This chapter presents a long-run analysis of industrial growth and structural change in Brazil. From the late nineteenth century Brazil experienced fast economic growth in the wake of booming coffee exports, mass immigration, urbanization and expanding consumer markets. Developing as a natural extension of the burgeoning export economy, local industrial firms grew rapidly in importance and began to supply most of the domestic market for manufactures. By the 1950s the industrial sector surpassed agriculture in its contribution to national output, although Brazil’s exports continued to be largely dominated by primary products. Shortage of foreign exchange was thus a constraint on macroeconomic policy for most of the postwar period, which was only temporarily circumvented by heavy reliance on inflows of foreign capital. The debt crisis of the 1980s would have a lasting effect on Brazil’s macroeconomic performance. Rapid economic and industrial expansion were replaced by sluggish rates of economic growth even after the adoption of market reforms and the success of stabilization policies from the 1990s. Under the new economic conditions, industrial development has changed significantly and faced new challenges.
This story of boom, bust and low growth is the subject of this chapter, with a focus on the long-run performance of the manufacturing sector. We begin with the first developments of Brazil’s coffee export economy from the mid-nineteenth century and examine how this structure turned out to be one of the most dynamic industrial economies in the twentieth century. We highlight the disruption caused by the collapse of debt-led growth in Brazil in the early 1980s, when the historical record of fast economic and industrial growth was reversed. We then examine the recent trends in industrial growth and structural change.“