The Northeast Brazil state is somewhat accustomed to shining on the economic stage. GDP growth in Ceará tends to run ahead of the national rate and the state presented a strong trade balance in 2017. The latest figures for the first four months of 2018 show that this year is set to follow a similar pattern with the Ceará economy registering a huge jump in export volume, strong job creation and higher consumer spending.
Exports increase by almost 60%
According to figures released by the state economic research unit, IPECE (Instituto de Pesquisa e Estrategia Economica do Ceará in Brazilian), Ceará exports between January and April rose by 58.7%. The total value of exports over the four months reached US$639 million, up 3.25% on the same period in 2017.
Steel and metal took centre stage yet again as the state’s prime export. Since expansion of Pecem Port and the establishment of the steel industry within it, this sector has grown from strength to strength. Steel exports totalled US$337.1 million, an increase of 6.35% on last year and representing almost 53% of export volume.
However, fruit exports were the real stars between January and April when they increased by a massive 604.3%. Agriculture continues to be a mainstay of the Ceará economy as the state expands production. Cashew nuts, another staple local product, experienced a rise of 18.2% in exports.
Consumer spending rises
Another indication of the strong Ceará economy came in the latest consumer spending figures. The IPECE reported that in the first four months of the year it rose by 3.5%, similar to the national increase. More significantly, this was the first year-on-year rise after three consecutive years of falls in consumer spending indicating improved confidence in the state economy.
Best job creation since April 2014
In April, Ceará registered its best month for employment for four years. The number of new jobs created was the highest in the Northeast and represented over 50% of all new employment in the region.
The rise was also the eighth highest in the country. Unemployment in Ceará dropped by 1.5% in the month.
Big drop in extreme poverty
The state also ranks well in the index for extreme poverty reduction. Between 2016 and 2017 (the latest figures available), the driving force of the Ceará economy brought extreme poverty down by 3.57%. This was the fifth highest figure in the country, although as the IPECE report points out, in absolute terms it’s the highest in Brazil. Within the Northeast, Ceará was the only state to see a reduction in the number of people within this social status.