SAO PAULO–Brazil will overtake France to become the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2015 at the latest, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said Tuesday in Sao Paulo. “The International Monetary Fund expects Brazil to be the fifth economy in 2015, but I think that will happen earlier,” Mantega said at a textiles industry event. He made his comments a day after a study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) found that Brazil had surpassed Britain this year as the world’s sixth-largest economy. Mantega said that Brazil’s GDP is growing at about double the rate of European countries. “So it’s inexorable that we surpass France and, in future, who knows, Germany, if it does not improve its performance,” Mantega said. Brazil’s Central Bank said last week that the country’s economy is to grow 3 percent this year, and 3.5 percent in 2012. Mantega insisted in his forecast that Brazil’s GDP growth will return in 2015 to 4.5 percent per year, the rate it averaged 2003-10.
Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to a record low of 5.2 percent in November, the public Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) said earlier this month. However Mantega admitted that Brazil, a country with 191 million people, is far from the per capita income of industrialized nations – and that catching up will take 10-20 years. “But we are already getting quite a bit better,” he said.