Today was cool. We left Sao Paulo and headed east to the Atlantic Ocean and the Port of Santos for a visit arranged by our friends at the Port of Portland. The trip from Sao Paulo's higher altitude location took us down a mountain road that had the longest and steepest set of switchbacks I have ever seen. It is the same route taken by the container trucks carrying cargo to and from the port, so it is busy and slow. But trust me, except for the suicidal motorcycle riders, you wouldn't want to take this road fast.
The Port of Santos is huge. It is South America's busiest seaport, and two thirds of Brazil's GDP moves through there. Our group heard from some of the private terminal operators, and then got a sea view of the port aboard a boat commissioned just for us. Interesting thing about this port: the rail service is minimal because years ago, the government - probably trying to maximize jobs - chose to focus on trucks not trains. So, the vast majority of that huge amount of cargo goes in and out aboard thousands and thousands of trucks - on the limited highway system. The result: it is taking longer for product to get to market. As Bill Wyatt pointed out, you can built great port terminals - and Santos has great terminals - but if you don't have an efficient way to move to or from the terminals, things won't running as productively as they should.
It's all about the infrastructure.
We headed back to Sao Paulo for a reception at Consul General Dennis Hankins' very beautiful residence. We were joined by about 30 participants in the University of Oregon's executive MBA program, who are also spending a week in Brazil. What a coincidence! They are our neighbors at the 200 Market Building! We also had the opportunity chat with several Brazilians who were there, including representatives of the city. We invited them all to Portland!!!
Tomorrow, we head for the city of Curitiba and a visit with Blount Industries.