Brazil's Economy Grows 2.9% In Lula's 1St Year, Beating Expectations

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends the CELAC Summit in Buccament, Saint Vicent and the Grenadines, Friday, March 1, 2024. CELAC is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. (AP Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre)
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends the CELAC Summit in Buccament, Saint Vicent and the Grenadines, Friday, March 1, 2024. CELAC is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. (AP Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's economy grew 2.9% in 2023, beating expectations in the first year of the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, according to the government statistics institute Friday.

The number announced by IBGE impressed many economists, whose overall forecaste early last year was for only 0.8% growth in 2023.

Brazil's economy grew 3% in 2022, partly due to government spending programs pushed by then-President Jair Bolsonaro amid his failed reelection bid.

The credit rating agency Austin Ratings said Brazil's economy is now the ninth biggest in the world, based on the preliminary gross domestic product numbers announced Friday. Reaching $2.17 trillion in GDP last year moved the South American nation ahead of Canada and Russia, it said.

The Brazilian statistics agency said Brazil's record production of soybeans and corn helped the overall results.

“Agriculture represented about a third of all the growth of Brazil's economy last year,” Rebeca Palis, a coordinator at IBGE, said in a statement.

The government said after the results that it expects 2024 growth to be at 2.2%, which would again above market expectations. Lula has said in public forums he wants to push the number above 3% this year by drawing more foreign investment to Brazil.