Delayed Port of Santos privatization hearing expected

The Brazilian National Social Development Bank will hold a public hearing today on privatizing Brazil’s most active port.  Port of

The Port of Santos, Brazil's largest, risks being privatized in an effort to inject growth into the struggling Latin American economy.

Photo: Ricardo Botelho/Minfra

The Brazilian National Social Development Bank will hold a public hearing today on privatizing Brazil’s most active port. 

Port of Santos is the largest container port in Latin America. It is connected to over 600 other ports in 125 countries. Almost 27% of Brazil’s trade balance, roughly $112.3 billion, passes through the transit hub. 

The project’s future and the greater trajectory of Brazil’s economy will ride on next month’s presidential election, where incumbent Jair Bolsonaro faces a challenge from former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Expect Bolsonaro to continue defending the project and privatization generally as beneficial to the country. As Brazil recovers from pandemic-induced recession—particularly seeing unemployment at a seven-year low, deflation and a budget surplus—Bolsonaro will benefit at the polls from a strong economy. 

On the other hand, polls show de Silva maintaining a significant lead over Bolsonaro. Expect the former president to continue to oppose privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and emphasize that even though certain metrics indicate recovery, Brazil still faces significant social problems—including high levels of poverty, emigration and environmental problems. Specifically, expect de Silva to put a halt to the Port of Santos project should he win.