Pão de queijo, the traditional, gluten-free Brazilian chewy cheese roll, has been making waves in New York City. A number of restaurants serving this signature food from the state of Minas Gerais have popped up over the past few years. In the European Union, however, they are banned. Labeled as a dairy product, pão de queijo can’t be exported to the EU – even though, by the group’s own rules, the fact that the product contains only 20 percent of milk derivatives should prevent pão de queijo from being tagged as dairy.
That is just one of the 20 trade barriers identified by Brazil’s National Confederation of Industry (CNI) – 17 of which have been imposed by members of the G-20, the group of the world’s 19 biggest economies plus the European Union.
According to data from Fundação Getulio Vargas, the country’s leading think tank, Brazil loses around 14 percent of its exports due to trade barriers and sanitary controls – amounting to USD 30.5 billion in 2017 alone. Some of the country’s main exports, such as sugar, meat, orange juice, and electronics, are the main targets.
While the European Union has imposed restrictions on Brazilian meat after a series of sanitary scandals, some of the restrictions smack of pure protectionism, such as the pão de queijo example.