With a territorial area covering 586,528 km2, Minas Gerais is bigger than France, Switzerland, Spain, or Japan. It has a population of close to 20 million inhabitants and an economy equal to that of Denmark, Norway, and Chile.
Strategically located in the center of Brazil’s most developed region, its capital, Belo Horizonte, is the hub of major federal highways that offer quick, easy access to the country’s largest urban centers, seaports, and principal domestic markets. Minas Gerais is responsible for almost one-third of the electric energy produced in Brazil and invests half of its public budget in health and education.
In addition to being the largest Brazilian producer of iron ore, destined for use by the domestic iron and steel industry or for export, the state occupies first place in the production of coffee, milk and dairy products and second place in the production of automobiles and textiles. It also has a prominent position in the metal-mechanical, electronics, footwear, garments, yarn and fabrics, food and beverages, furniture, refractories and plastics, silicon, and gold industries.
Minas Gerais has an excellent climate, rich soil and large reserves of water that support a very diverse agriculture.
Transportation and customs
Close to 300 thousand kilometers of highways crisscross the state, comprising the largest network of roads in the country – 16% of the national total. It also houses important railway hubs. Together, the highways and railways ensure that the state’s products have access to the main Brazilian seaports. Ease of access is further completed by one of the country’s most modern international airports – the Tancredo Neves International Airport, located in Confins, part of the Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Region. The state also has close to 80 domestic airports with the capacity of receiving medium-size aircraft.
Furthermore, dry ports installed in five hub cities in the interior of Minas Gerais provide clearance of goods, both for exports and imports.
Minas Gerais is the national reference in the quality of telecommunications services, operated by private companies, both foreign and domestic, with a high degree of reliability.
Mobile telephony and high speed Internet coverage reaches the entire state through an innovative public-private partnership project, which has been adopted worldwide by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
With some of the largest hydroelectric plants in the country, the state is responsible for more than 18% of the capacity for power generation in Brazil. Moreover, Minas Gerais is expanding its capacity to generate energy by building new plants.
An enormous drainage basin and forest reserves of eucalyptus and pine, which are readily available for the production of charcoal and other uses, ensure a continuous distribution of high quality energy. The expansion of the gas program further increases power production to supply the industries, thus creating an alternative energy with lower cost and less pollution than other fossil fuels.
Currently, the state’s main industrial centers are connected to Brazil’s largest natural gas pipeline – the Campos Oil Field Basin in Rio de Janeiro.
One of Brazil’s main exporting states, its industrial and agricultural economy is diversified and highly productive, more than capable of competing in major international markets. Besides being a major exporter of intermediate goods, Minas Gerais also stands out in the sale of manufactured products with high added value.
The state currently exports more than 2.6 thousand items, with an emphasis on mineral and metallurgical products and those related to agribusiness. The list also includes cars, tractors and farm machinery, reading and payment equipment, electric equipment, medical devices, biotechnological cultures and reagents, steel, tools, insulin, cotton fabrics and ready-made garments, granite, milk powder, chocolates, confectionery and bakery products, beef, chicken, and jewelry.
The state’s main trading partners are China, Germany, Argentina and the USA. The state’s exports find a place in numerous international markets. The U.S., Asia, the European Union, and Mercosur are the primary destinations of these products, which have already reached more than 180 countries worldwide.
Segments that are already well established include coffee, spirits, meat, and dairy products. The production of sugar, tropical fruits and their juices, and processing of vegetables and grains is increasingly occupying more space in the state’s economy.
Minas Gerais also stands out in the production of biofuel and is the second largest producer of ethanol in Brazil.
Automobiles and autoparts
Brazil’s second largest center for automakers, Minas Gerais is responsible for more than 21% of the national production of automotive vehicles (cars and light vehicles).
Brazil’s third largest producer of footwear, with approximately 2,400 companies, nearly all of them micro and small businesses, focused mainly on the domestic market, but which actively seeks integration into the international market.
As the largest Brazilian producer, turning out eight million tons yearly, the industry works with advanced technology and equipment, competitive costs, and raw materials of excellent quality. Minas Gerais has the largest and best reserve of limestone.
Minas Gerais is a leading producer of granite, slate, quartzite, marble, soapstone, and serpentines for both domestic and foreign markets. Brazil’s reserves of decorative stones are among the largest in the world and Brazil is recognized as the fifth largest world exporter.
Minas Gerais is home to numerous tanning and processing companies that are involved in sales outside of Brazil. It is a major producer and exporter of leather goods, sold primarily to Asia and Europe.
The electronics and software industries are growing rapidly, including in the mature technology segments (industrial equipment, electrical material, and the generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy). The segment has a highly skilled workforce, a favorable technological environment, a strong industrial tradition, and specific funding programs.
Lumber and furniture
With 50% of the Brazil’s planted eucalyptus forests, the reserves set aside for cutting occupy an area of more than 840,000 hectares, in addition to another 216,000 hectares of tropical pine. Minas Gerais has also set aside one million hectares of reforested areas to meet the demand of the pig-iron and cellulose sectors. In addition to already occupying a noteworthy place in the Brazilian production of furniture, new production centers have emerged, with a wide range of products.
The largest and most traditional mining state in Brazil, Minas Gerais has large reserves of iron ore, gold, diamond, phosphate, zinc, aluminum, limestone, and decorative stones and accounts for about 40% of Brazil’s total production.