New Opportunities Sought by Europeans in Brazil

by Kathy Jones on  November 27, 2011 at 6:03 PM Lifestyle News
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A growing number of Europeans are seeking employment outside the region even as the European crisis lumbers on.

Brazil, Latin America's economic powerhouse, is among those places increasingly viewed as a land of opportunity.
 New Opportunities Sought by Europeans in Brazil
New Opportunities Sought by Europeans in Brazil

After working for an agribusiness firm in suburban Paris for 10 years, 33-year-old FrenchwomanAfeida Ghaleb decided to move to Brazil last July. She said she is glad to have made the switch.

"I escaped the crisis in Europe. Being bicultural (French and Arab), I wanted to try my luck abroad," said Ghaleb, who is of Algerian descent.

Brazil "is more open. You are not pigeonholed, There is more opportunity to move from one sector to another," she added. "France unfortunately does not value diversity."

Unlike many other European immigrants, Ghaleb was able to get a two-year, renewable visa when she landed a job as a local employee of French tire manufacturer Michelin.

Alejandro, a 33-year-old Spaniard who would not give his last name, was not so lucky. He arrived on a tourist visa last October and could only find odd jobs as a DJ and a tourist guide in Rio's favelas.

"With the crisis and unemployment in Spain, I needed to head for greener pastures, to a city with the beach and the sun," he said. "You have to go where the opportunities are. But my visa expires in 45 days."

He can only renew his visa for another three months -- and is ready to become an illegal immigrant if he can't.

Ranked as the world's seventh-largest economy, Brazil posted 7.5 percent GDP growth in 2010 and expects 3.5 percent this year, higher than the world average.

Its jobless rate dropped to six percent this year, the lowest since 2002.

Brazil is also to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, two events that have opened up huge job and investment opportunities for Europeans in the infrastructure and service sectors.

According to the justice ministry, the number of foreigners living legally in Brazil rose more than 50 percent from January to June this year, from 962,000 to 1.5 million.

Portuguese lead the pack, rising from 277,000 in December 2009 to 329,000 in June 2011.

The number of Spaniards increased during the same period from 58,500 to nearly 81,000, while the French contingent went up from 16,500 to 17,800.

Brazilian authorities estimate there are also more than 600,000 illegal immigrants. Among them, an estimated 40 percent are Bolivians and 13 percent are Chinese.

"Brazil is seen as a land of opportunity in Europe," said Nuria Pont, the head of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo.

"Last year, we were contacted by more than 2,000 firms seeking information on how to invest and their number is growing," she added. "The rise is due not only to the crisis, but also to huge consumer demand in Brazil."

"There are 40 million new consumers who emerged from poverty, and the Brazilian market cannot meet their demand," she explained.

"There also is a shortage of skilled professionals (such as engineers) which Brazil will take another five to six years to train," Pont said.

"When there are no qualified professionals in Brazil, the authorities grant visas (to foreign ones)," she added.

Brazil's roaring economy -- which generated 2.5 million jobs last year, coupled with the crisis in many economically advanced nations -- also has led many Brazilians who emigrated to the United States, Japan and Europe in the 1990s to come back home.

Over the past six years, the number of Brazilians living abroad has dropped by half, from four million to two million, according to official figures.

Source: AFP

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