Ceará, The land of a dynamic economy

By Tim In Brasil



Ceará’s economy is dynamic. Its industrialization has exceeded the capital city´s borders and conquered the countryside. From the 1960´s on, there has been a progressive industrialization and urbanization, which was boosted from the 1980´s on, partially due to the policy of tax incentives concession to companies installed in the state. 

The industrial sector is strongly represented by sectors such as clothing, footwear, textiles, chemicals, and metallurgy and food products. 

The district of Maracanau, located in the metropolitan region of Fortaleza, is an important industrial complex, which boost the economy, just like other cities like Eusebio, Maranguape, besides the capital. Other development centres have already consolidated in the North (with Sobral as its main representative) and in the south (whose economy is headed by the Cariri region, here major cities are Juazeiro do Norte, Crato and Barbalha). 

The state’s economy also becomes more substantial with the implementation of structural projects such as the Petrobras Premium Refinery and Ironworks, both plants situated in the industrial Port and Compex of Pecem, in Sao Gonzalo do Amarante. 

The generation of clean energy is also one of the trademarks of Ceará. Winds guarantee fuel for the wind turbines. The sun which shines throughout the year is fuel for solar energy. The sea waves bring an opportunity for the implementation of the innovative wave power. And the natural deposit of uranium in Itatiaia, in Santa Quiteria, represents a huge nuclear power potential. It’s dynamic. 


The industrial sector is strongly represented by sectors such as clothing, footwear, textiles, chemicals, and metallurgy and food products. The district of Maracanau, located in the metropolitan region of Fortaleza, is an important industrial complex, which boost the state’s economy. Ceará stands out in the production of all kinds of furniture. Small furniture manufacturers abound in Fortaleza, Caninde, Cascavel and Juazeiro do Norte, where this industry is very dynamic. 


Ceará has a wide range of exports, from fruits – which make Ceará the leader in foreign sales – to footwear; the state shows its vocation to conquer the international market. The numerous offers include weaving products, clothing, fruit juice, cashew nuts, coconuts, handicraft, oleaginous seeds and honey; among others. Exports have seen a raise, but the state is also a buyer. While exports amount to US$129.3 million, imports come to only US$73.3 million. After finding iron ore in several countryside cities, testing its quality and guaranteeing the economic viability of its exploration, Ceará is already exporting. The main destination is China, and estimates of the volume sold initially account for 1 million tonnes extracted from the deposits in Sobral. 



Presently, Ceará receives tourists from all, over the world. The average is 3 million visitors per year. There are at least five major attractions which stimulate the local economy. The services sector accounts for the biggest share of the states GDP. 

Beaches: The most important beaches are the ones in the capital (especially Praia do Futuro), Jericoacorara, Canoa Quebrada, Cumbuco and Flecheiras. Cultural Tourism: In Fortaleza highlights are: writer Jose de Alencar´s house, Museum of Image and Sound, Museum of Ceará, Ceará Culture Memorial, among others. 

Religious Tourism: Demonstrations of faith are a tradition in the state. Most important cities are: Juazeiro do Notre, Caninde and Quixada. 

Adventure tourism: May take place in the mountainous regions, in the back lands or on the beaches. Common activities include: gliding, trekking, and windsurfing, kite surfing, surfing and sand boarding. 

Ecotourism: Due to its great variety of ecosystems, ecotourism can take place everywhere in the state, especially in the mountainous regions, where there are waterfalls, woods and natural features. The Ubajara National Park, located in the Ibiapada region, and the Guaramiranga mountain range, where Jazz & Blues festivals are held, are other disputed spots. 


The bobbin lace woman is an icon of Ceará. Lace, also known as bobbin lace, is performed by women in countryside communities and its production is disseminated especially in the coastal zone. Basket handicraft and interlacing in Ceará is dominated by the use of Carnauba stray, bamboo and vines to the production of several objects, such as hats, purses and baskets etc. Major handicraft cantres include Sobral, Russas, Limoeiro do Norte, Jaguarana, Aracati, Massape, Crateus, Baturite and Camocim. Pottery in Ceará was strongly influenced by the Portuguese, Indians an Africans, and is used with utilarian, decorative and playful aims. Besides Fortaleza, the most representative centres are: Cacavel, Ipu and Juaziro do Norte. Ceará has an old tradition of handicraft items made of leather. There is a great variety of handicraft produced with this material. Major production centres are Fortaleza, Jaguaribe, Crato and Juazeiro do Norte. Graphic design also provides raw material to the states handicraft. The most important artistic contribution is xylography (native wood engraving), which is used in the covers of Cordell literature booklets, another local popular tradition. 


In agriculture, highlights are the growing of beans, corn, rice, cotton, cashew nuts, coconuts, sugar cane, manioc and tomato. The agricultural production has combined forms, setting varied patterns in each city. This practise is closely related to the easy handling of subsistence farming in the back lands, with the aid of irrigation. 


Fruit farming has changed the agricultural profile in cities such as Iguatu, in the centre south of Ceará. Vast Flat areas, a fertile soil and easy irrigation turn the city into a powerful producer of fruits. Last year, after the implementation of several projects, fruit started to be harvested. The local perspective is to extend plantation. Presently, there are 21 fruit production groups. The project is carried out in a 56 ha area, where passion fruit, banana, guava, water melon, tomato and corn are produced. Dealing with about US$23.68 million, Ceará is presently in first place in the fresh fruit exportation ranking. The states performance is ahead of Sao Paulo, the most developed state in Brazil, which deals with US$15.6 million worth of exports. Fruit farming is the third biggest item in the states exports, having a 9% share in the total amount. Melon and pineapple are the fruit exportation highlights. Melon negotiations alone amounted to US$15.19 million. Fruit juice is another highly negotiated export. 


Cattle farming and related activities represent a significant share in the state’s economy. In 1986, Ceará accounted for over 10% of the region bovine herd, with 2.6 million heads, besides having taken third place in ovine production with 1.3 million heads. One of the features of the state’s cattle farming is the diversity of its herd, which also include a great deal of goats, horses, donkeys and pigs. The state has also presented conditions to develop goat farming. Perspectives for new investments are in areas suitable for expansion, including the poultry sector, where the state has shown some development. 


The following minerals are extracted from Ceará’s soil: Iron, limestone, magnesium, granite, clay, oil, mineral water, sea salt, graphite, plaster and crude uranium. The city of Santa Quiteria has the largest uranium reserves in Brazil. The Itataia deposit, besides having the largest phosphate content in the country (11% of P2OS), has the largest uranium deposit in Brazil (79,319 tons of U308) as a by-product. Besides phosphate – and uranium – associated marble, it also has 300 million of sw m of marble reserves which can be used as ornamental rocks, cement, lime, paints and soil correctives. 


Port of Pecém


Ceará has two port terminals: Mucuripe and Pecem. The Port of Mucuripe, located in the capital handles 70,000 containers and 3 million tons per year. It is interconnected to the major national and international ports and to the domestic railroads system. It can handle cargo ships weighing up to 50,000 tons. As for maritime infrastructure, Pecem port terminal, 46 km away from Fortaleza, was designed to allow access to most of the operating cargo ships, since its mooring installations have depths suitable for cutting edge ships. The Port Terminal is comprised of two maritime piers, one of which is used for ironworks inputs and products and general cargo, while the other handles liquid bulks, especially crude oil and oil derivatives. Since it is an off –shore terminal, mooring piers are protected from the waves and currents by a 1,768m long, L-shaped, rubble mound breakwater. 


Ceará has 14 airports altogether, of which Pinto Martins is the only international one. The passenger terminal is air conditioned. The tarmac covers 152,857m2 area and allows 14 aircraft to manoeuvre simultaneously in predetermined positions. 


Economic development actions include the concern with power generation for the maintenance of great projects. Wind power plants gain around and must generate 500MW per year in this primary phase, which is way below the states capability of 25,000 MW. The city if Taua, located in the Inhamuns back lands, one of the driest regions in the state, houses the second largest wind power plant in the world, whose solar panels can be seen from space. The power sector also has projects which, while traditional, will dramatically change the states potential, such as the thermoelectric power station at the Pecem Port, will generate 720 MW per year. Ceará is expected to soon become a power exporter. Coelce is the company in charge of power generation and distribution in the state.

Most of our projects are being developed in this area, focusing on achieving high capital growth as a consequence of the profitable agribusiness, timber and renewable energy activities on itself and also because of the increasing value of land as a secure asset.


Birchwood Stanhope

In addition to investment opportunities we also design tailor-made investment solutions in the form of individual mandates or specific investment strategies and their implementation.

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