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back to index backLATINtalk March,  2005

Best Business City in Latin America

In 2004 Sao Paulo celebrated its 450th birthday, and the readers of Latin Trade for the third consecutive year selected it as the best city to do business in Latin America.

The list of reasons continues to impress: South America's biggest city, Sao Paulo has 10.5 million inhabitants (not counting the larger metropolitan area of Greater Sao Paulo, which has close to 18 million residents) and the third-largest public budget in the country.

It's not surprising that traffic is chaotic: One out of four cars in Brazil is driving the streets of Sao Paulo. It's a city with a precarious mass-transit system, high crime levels and a smog problem, and there's better weather elsewhere in the country. But all this matters little when it comes to doing business and attending to the needs of business people who land here from all corners of the planet every day.

Here is where 38% of the country's biggest private companies have put their headquarters; 63% of international companies are also here; 17 of the 20 largest banks; eight of the 10 biggest stock brokerages and nearly half of the 200 biggest technology companies. The stock exchange, the Bolsa de Valores de Sao Paulo (Bovespa), is South America's largest, and the commodities and futures exchange, the Bolsa de Mercancias y Futuros, is the sixth largest in the world in trading volume.

Long famous for being an industrial and financial center, Sao Paulo is also known today for its important role in the service industry. Fifteen million people take part in more than 70,000 business events in Brazil's economic capital. Of the country's 170 major trade fairs, 150 occur in Sao Paulo. In order to handle the flow of business travelers, the city has 50,000 hotel beds. In recent years, various international chains have opened their doors to meet that demanding market, including Hilton, Hyatt, Melia and InterContinental. After a hard day's work, there's plenty of cultural opportunities for the visiting executive, including 92 theaters, 11 cultural centers and 70 museums.

Sao Paulo is also known as the gastronomic capital of the country, with 12,500 restaurants featuring 46 cuisines, a reflection in part of the high number of immigrants to the country and the influence their descendants have had on the culture. A modestly-sized city for centuries, Sao Paulo exploded in population in the late 19th century, taking in people from all over the world. The biggest foreign communities are Italian, Japanese and Arabic. Sao Paulo later became the heart of the Southern Cone Common Market, known as Mercosul, and the major point of entry for foreign visitors to Brazil arriving by air. The Cumbica International Airport has 39 airlines and 1.3 million annual arrivals. As Latin Trade readers have noted, it's quite a place. Good luck on your next trip to the business capital of the region, Sao Paulo.

Source: Latin Trade magazine - GAI

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Best Business City in Latin America
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