Industries. – The development of industries in Brazil is of a very recent date: only after the proclamation of the republic and even more in the immediate pre-war period did an economic movement occur which tended to equip the country with industrial plants capable of satisfying internal needs. The world war then provoked a fervor of initiatives in the various fields; the lack or scarce competition from abroad and the strong customs protection together with monetary inflation allowed the various industries to overcome the implantation phase and to establish themselves victoriously in the internal market.
However, it is certain that Brazilian industry encounters considerable obstacles to its march: the lack of capital aggravated by the internal financial crisis which for so long made the fluctuation of exchange rates weigh on the Brazilian economy; the lack of technicians and trained personnel; the difficulty of the circulation between the coastal centers and the interior, and finally the very serious scarcity of fossil fuels (the oil fields are not yet exploited). To eliminate this deficiency or at least diminish its effects, we rely heavily on the hydroelectric energy that large water resources can offer. According to a calculation, made in 1920 by Lindeman, in Brazil there are 50 million HP in power. Suffice it to recall the Urubú-punga and Sete Quedas (or Guayra) waterfalls on the Rio Paraná as well as the numerous ones formed by the two spring branches of the Paraná itself, Rio Grande and Rio Paranahyba, and by the main tributaries such as Rio Tieté and Rio Paranapanema. Famous are the waterfalls of the Rio Iguassú, also a tributary of the Paraná, which are only partially Brazilian. But also all the coastal rivers from the Uruguayan border to Cape S. Rocco form usable waterfalls: famous and especially impressive are those of Paulo Affonso on the Rio S. Francisco which are partially exploited. And a great copy of energy can provide the powerful tributaries of the Amazon, especially those on the right. It is therefore a truly grandiose sum of energies, but most of the falls, due to their geographical and topographical situation, they are not used, while only minor rivers are exploited in the vicinity of the most populous centers. So the Rio de Janeiro Tramway, Light and Power Co. it draws 75,000 HP from the Pirahy, a tributary of the Parahyba, for the uses of Rio de Janeiro, so over 60,000 HP are used in the Tieté Falls. for the service of St. Paul, and 20,000 HP. del Rio Paraguassú for S. Salvador da Bahia, etc.
According to Iamaccepted, the main industry is the textile industry, which has made rapid progress in recent years, even with respect to the progress made in the first five years of the century, when from 1899 to 1915 the number of factories had almost quadrupled, rising from 70 to 240, while that of the looms had more than quintupled, reaching 51,134 in 1915. The production of cotton intensified in some southern states (especially in S. Paolo) and above all in the north-eastern states (Parahyba, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará) with the abundance of excellent quality raw material has stimulated the cotton industry which in 1920, according to the federal census, had 357 factories with a capital of 670 million milreis and employed 102,952 workers.
Numerically, half of the factories are located in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and in the federal district, but the 178 factories existing in these three regions concentrated, at the time of the census, 375 million milreis of capital, 82,000 HP., 60,000 workers. Important cotton districts are also found in Minas Geraes (Juiz de Fora), Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Sul. Overall, in 1926 the cotton factories owned 2 million and 350 thousand spindles and 65,000 looms and employed 108,950 workers. Less developed are the wool industry, which has its main center in Juiz de Fora (Minas Geraes), and that of silk, a completely recent creation by the Italians of St. Paul,
The lack of coal has always prevented the exploitation of iron ore deposits, so that the steel industry is represented by a few plants in S. Paolo (Ipanema) and Minas Geraes (Sabara); on the other hand, the food industries have considerable importance. Here too we are dealing with relatively recent plants, often created by immigrants, such as the milling industry of Count Matarazzo, that of pasta, preserves, animal and vegetable oils. The oldest of these industries is that of the sugar refinery: the processing of sugar cane is still mostly done by small plants (engenhos) that produce raw sugar (rapadura) and aguardente. for internal consumption. But the sugar industry also has great sugar factories that work for export and which are concentrated in Pernambuco, Sergipe and Alagôas, in Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and S. Paolo. In 1920 the total sugar production was 695 thousand tons, of which 455 thousand supplied by the engenhos and 240 thousand by the sugar factories. The main export market is Pernambuco (Recife) from which the quality called Demerara is sent to England.
Overall, the industries mentioned above, such as the minor ones in clothing, footwear, the paper industry, the chemical and chemical-pharmaceutical industries work almost exclusively for the internal market.
Occupation statistics. – The total number of workers employed in the industrial plants in September 1920 was just 296,672, which divided into the 13,289 plants surveyed gave an average of 22 workers per plant. The largest number of workers was in S. Paolo (103,629), so came the Federal District with 56,000 and Rio Grande do Sul with 24,600 workers. Overall, these are very modest figures which testify to the still relative importance of industry in national life.