Sao Paulo is huge! Some 18 million people in the metro area. Brazil is the 6th largest economy in the world, and Sao Paulo is its economic hub, accounting for 65 percent of the country's GDP. We started today with a briefing at the U.S. consulate, where we also met representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce here. They have more than 4,000 members, and 84 percent of them are Brazilian companies that want to do business with the U.S.
What we learned is that Brazil has a huge job ahead of it: over the last couple of decades, this economy grew at a remarkable pace, driven largely by consumer spending and growth of their middle class. But that economic growth has slowed, and now leaders realize they need to focus on infrastructure, education and tax reform to move the country forward. Sound familiar? That's our focus as well, but Brazil is dealing with even bigger needs and a larger population. Only 3 out of every 100 school children will finish college. Traffic is a nightmare and mass transit is inadequate. They have a long ways to go. Unemployment is only 4 percent, but while the country is seeing rising wages, they are also experiencing declining productivity, another problem that has to be addressed.
Two of our presenters were from Oregon! Tom Hanson, commercial service officer at the consulate, is a University of Oregon graduate, and Joel Alley, a consular officer who handles visas, graduated from Oregon State and has a master's degree from Portland State University. Brazil, by the way, has more U.S. visas issued than any other country in the world.
Finally, we had a huge treat when we got to meet both Nike and Wieden+Kennedy representatives here who told us about doing business in Brazil.
Nike came to this country in 1990 when it first opened its doors to imports. Today, Nike employs 600 people directly in Brazil, and it has contract production plants that employ another 11,000. Some 50 percent of the Nike products sold in Brazil are made here. Nike sponsors the national Brazil soccer team and makes their trademark yellow shirts. And Nike will be a sponsor of the 2016 Olympics, which will be huge.
Wieden+Kennedy, meanwhile is relatively new here, less than two years. But in that time, they have grown into a full service office, serving international clients like Nike and new ones they are developing. We got to see an ad W + K developed for Nike in a Brazilian campaign launched just yesterday! It was great.
One last fact: this is a social media nation! Brazil is second in use of Facebook and Twitter and there are more mobile devices than there are people here!