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São Paulo


São Paulo is located in the South East of Brazil, 900 kilometres south of the capital, Brasilia and 70 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean. The city’s metropolitan area has over 20 million people, thus making it not only the largest city in Latin America, but also the most populated city in the Western world.

It is estimated that São Paulo has the world's third largest population of Italians, the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan, the third largest population of Lebanese inhabitants, and the largest populations of Portuguese and Spanish people. Embracing its cosmopolitan community, evidence of São Paulo’s many cultures can be seen throughout the city.

São Paulo is the economic hub of Latin America, an international leader in industry from heavy to high tech, in banking and finance, in commerce and in global trade. More recently São Paulo has become the Brazilian capital of cultural events and International fairs, attracting a wide range of visitors from all over the world. 

GAWC has ranked São Paulo as the 21st most Alpha global city in the world.


PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP research estimated the city’s GDP (PPP) at $388 billion, making São Paulo the 10th richest city in the world. The city is expected to be the 6th richest by 2025. 

As the economic capital of Brazil, it houses the São Paulo stock exchange (BOVESPA), the largest stock exchange in Latin America that accounts for 80% of share trading in South America and 90% of derivative trading. 

São Paulo produces roughly 50% of Brazil’s industrial output and 42% of all manufactured goods. A large proportion of the countries automotive industry is concentrated into a number of surrounding highly industrialized towns. With some 60,000 companies based here São Paulo has the largest industrial complex in Latin America.

There has been a gradual change in the city economic profile since a decade ago, from a strongly industrialized base to service and technology-oriented activity. Business has increased, many new colleges have been founded, and there has been a boom in many sectors, particularly shopping malls, entertainment, construction and business-oriented tourism.

The state of São Paulo is also an important agricultural centre. It is the largest producer of sugar cane, and home to vast numbers of orange farms and coffee plantations. Primary exports include sugars, automobiles, airplanes, mobile phones, beef and orange juice. 92% of the exported products are sent to Latin America, United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.


São Paulo is known for the convergence of several state and federal highways; as a result, large numbers of travellers, and large quantities of cargo, pass through the city en route to various destinations. The transport system is highly concentrated by the use of motorised traffic and with over 15,000 buses, 30,000 taxis and 4 million cars on the roads, many seek alternate modes of transport to avoid the city’s infamous congestion.

São Paulo also has three rapid transport systems, the underground rail system called the Metro, a suburban rail system that services many regions not reached by the underground. There are also a number of bus lines in the city called which connect with underground or suburban train stations and form the bulk of public transport.

São Paulo has three airports. São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport is the largest, and is located 25 kilometres from downtown São Paulo. Combined with two smaller airports (Congonhas and Campo de Marte), São Paulo moves over 34 million passengers per year, making it one of the busiest in the world by number of air passenger movements.

Of Brazil’s 32 cargo terminals, all operated by Infraero, Guarulhos leads the pack handling over 75 thousand metric tons per year. There are pending plans to build two additional terminals onto the airport and a third runway, bringing the airport to full capacity for passenger and cargo operations.


Known as the “Brazilian locomotive” São Paulo drives the economy of the nation. Due to its dense population the city enjoys a large workforce although there is a disparity between those who are highly skilled and have advanced degrees, and those who are unskilled.

São Paulo has a well-developed system of primary and secondary education, both public and private, and a variety of vocational-technical schools. More than nine-tenths of the population is literate, and roughly the same proportion of those aged 7 to 14 are enrolled in school. Among the many institutions of higher education, the largest and most esteemed is the state-supported University of São Paulo.

Over recent years the city’s administration led by Mayor Gilberto Kassab, focused investment into the education system, renovating and building new schools, granting pay rises to teaching staff and improving working conditions.

There is no national system of skills certification in Brazil, trapping many without education, in the informal sector. To combat this, São Paulo has trialled pilot schemes that allow them to acquire marketable skills through labour training.

According to the IGBE the work force enjoys the highest average wage of all Brazilian Metropolises, earning on average $R1,522 per month.

Business Costs

Brazil's personal income tax rates are based on a progressive income scale, currently set between 7.5% to 27.5%. Any non-residents working in Brazil pay a fixed tax rate of 27.5% regardless of income level.

For corporate rates there is a set basic rate of 15%, plus an additional 10% surtax and a social contribution tax of 9% which is levied on an annual or quarterly basis. The total corporate tax rate can therefore reach up to 34%. Companies can benefit from reductions or exemptions when they are located in trade zones.

According to recent reports of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the complexities and fragmentation of Brazil’s tax system make it particularly onerous to enterprises, so a reform package is currently under discussion in congress. One of the primary reforms proposes to unify the state level VAT which in São Paulo stands at 18%, whilst compensating any loss of revenue.

According to Cushman & Wakefield research São Paulo has the third most expensive office rental within the America’s, with an average cost of $61.4 per square ft per year inside the CBD.
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