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February 22, 2019

"Northern Arc" of Ports account for 28% of Brazil's Grain Exports

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The amount of grain exported out of Brazil's "Northern Arc" of ports continues to increase at a rapid pace. The "Northern Arc" includes ports on the Amazon River as well as ports along the northern Atlantic Coast of Brazil.

According to data released from the National Transportation Agency (ANTAQ), the percentage of Brazil's total grain exports going out the northern ports has doubled over the past eight years from 14% in 2010 to 28% in 2018. In 2018, Brazil exported 104.9 million tons of soybeans, soybean products, and corn with the northern ports accounting for 29.6 million tons.

The importance of the northern ports has increased significantly since 2014 when they accounted for 17% of Brazil's grain exports. That increased to 21% in 2015 and 27% in 2017. In 2018, Brazil's traditional southern ports accounted for 75.3 million tons of grain exports.

The Brazilian states considered in the Northern Arc include all the northern states as well as northern Mato Grosso, northern Goias, and parts of Minas Gerais. These states are responsible for approximately 52% of Brazil's soybean and corn production. Brazil's southern ports export grain from all the southern states including Mato Grosso do Sul as well as southern Mato Grosso and southern Goias.

Mato Grosso is Brazil's largest producer of soybeans and corn and since the state is so big, the exports are split - some go north and some go south. Grain from central and northern Mato Grosso will eventually all be exported out of the northern ports. In southern Mato Grosso, the vast majority of the grain will continue to be exported out of the traditionally southern ports.

Brazil's northern ports are a mixture of public and private ports both on the Amazon River and along the northern Atlantic Coast. The largest of these ports is a deep water port at the city of San Luis in the state of Maranhao, which last year exported 9.7 million tons of grain making it the third largest grain port in Brazil.

In 2018, the main public ports in southern Brazil responsible for soybean and corn exports included the Port of Santos in Sao Paulo (27.9 million tons), Paranagua in Parana (16.4 million tons), Rio Grande in Rio Grande do Sul (6.6 million tons), Sao Francisco do Sul in Parana (5.9 million tons), and Tubarao in Espirto Santo (5.2 million tons).

The amount of grain headed north in Brazil will continue to increase in the coming years. Asphalting of highway BR-163 connecting Mato Grosso and the Amazon River is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2019. Bidding on the proposed "Grain Railroad", which also will connect Mato Grosso with the Amazon River, is also scheduled for 2019. Building the railroad may take 7-10 years, but eventually it will be a major link between the northern grain producing regions of Brazil and ports on the Amazon River.