Dr. Oliveira published in Applied Geography

Global-local interactions in agrochemical industry: Relating trade regulations in Brazil to environmental and spatial restructuring in China

Dr. Oliveira’s article “Global-local interactions in agrochemical industry: Relating trade regulations in Brazil to environmental and spatial restructuring in China“, co-authored with He Canfei and Ma Jiahui, has just been published in Applied Geography.


China and Brazil are the world’s leading exporter and importer of agrochemicals respectively. We combine quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze global-local interactions in the spatial restructuring of China’s agrochemical industry in relation to a 2006 agrochemical import-acceleration policy in Brazil. We synthesize global political ecology and evolutionary economic geography (EEG) research on environmental regulations, technological upgrading, and the spatial transformations of China’s pollution-intensive industries, discussing arguments that the Pollution Haven Hypothesis (PHH) and Porter Hypothesis (PH) co-exist due to firm heterogeneity. While existing studies conceptualize heterogeneity in terms of firm size, regional hub (cluster) effect, and local government intervention, this study adds global-local interactions as dimension of firm heterogeneity – distinguishing firms with weak and strong international linkages. We show the import-acceleration policy in Brazil contributed to the de-concentration of agrochemical production towards western China (confirming the PHH). Yet increasingly strict environmental regulations in China curtailed de-concentration after 2010, when well-established firms and new entrants with strong international linkages consolidated exports to Brazil, while new firms with weaker international linkages exited this market (confirming the PH). This co-existence of PHH and PH due to firm-level heterogeneity of global-local interactions illustrates a theoretical synthesis we call an evolutionary political economic geography (EPEG).

Keywords: Evolutionary economic geography; Global political ecology; Global-local interactions; Pollution haven hypothesis; Porter hypothesis; Chemical industry

Applied Geography is a journal devoted to the publication of research which utilizes geographic approaches (human, physical, nature-society and GIScience) to resolve human problems that have a spatial dimension. These problems may be related to the assessment, management and allocation of the world’s physical and/or human resources. The underlying rationale of the journal is that only through a clear understanding of the relevant societal, physical, and coupled natural-humans systems can we resolve such problems. The journal was founded in 1980, and consistently ranks among the top journals of geography, planning, development studies, and environmental science.

For the full length article, see: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2020.102244


Dr. Oliveira presents his research at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Video of lecture at UFRRJ, July 31, 2020

Video of lecture at UFRRJ, July 31, 2020

Dr. Oliveira interviewed by the South China Morning Post

China urged to diversify soybean sources to curb reliance on US

Jun Mai, South China Morning Post, May 22, 2020


Li’s proposal [that China should diversity soy imports from the US and Brazil] would also be difficult to implement because of China’s industrialisation and concentration of livestock production, according to Gustavo Oliveira, an assistant professor with the University of California, Irvine, who tracks global soybean production.

“The main difficulty faced by China is about the continued industrialisation and concentration of livestock production, which guarantees that demand for soy-based livestock feed outpaces China’s capacity for domestic production and procurement from countries besides Brazil and the US,” he said.

For the full report, see: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3085579/china-urged-diversify-soybean-sources-curb-over-reliance-us

Dr. Oliveira discusses China-Latin America relations at the Foreign Policy Association: Great Decisions Program in Newport Beach

The Foreign Policy Association has been running the Great Decisions Program since 1954, as the country’s largest discussion of world affairs.

Dr. Gustavo Oliveira was invited to present his research and lead discussion on “The co-production of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America” at the Newport Beach meeting of the Foreign Policy Association: Great Decisions Program.

The event was held at the community center of the St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA. March 2, 2020.

Dr. Oliveira presents at the Global Studies Colloquium, UC Santa Barbara

“A Global Ethnography of Chinese Investments in Brazilian Agribusiness”

Professor Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira, Department of Global and International Studies, UC Irvine

Thursday, February 20 at 12:30pm to 2:00pm

The Department of Global Studies’ Colloquium Series is a lecture and lunch series, which has been made possible by the generosity of the Orfalea Endowment for the Master’s Program in Global Studies.  The Colloquium Series strives to open and explore a wide range of interdisciplinary debates and their interaction and engagement with the global, hosting new guest speakers each quarter from UCSB and beyond.  The upcoming event will be hosted in the SSMS 2001 conference room in the Global Studies Department on Thursday, February 20th at 12:30pm. Please see below for the featured talk:

“A Global Ethnography of Chinese Investments in Brazilian Agribusiness”

In the aftermath of the global food price and financial crisis of 2008, Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness mushroomed and two narratives emerged: either these are new South-South flows that sustain economic growth and development despite the crisis in the global North; or they are essentially land grabs that deepen Brazil’s neocolonial dependency on its new primary trade partner. Both narratives, however, regard Chinese agro industrial capital as homogenous and oversimplify it as a “global force” that has “local impacts” in Brazil and beyond. Missing from the literature is attention to the specific actors who co-produce these business deals, a transnational class of agribusiness professionals who advance their own affluence and influence by assembling Chinese capital with Brazilian land, labor, and expertise. In order to properly examine these actors and their co-production of Brazil-China agro-industrial partnerships, I advance theories and methods of global studies that are especially useful for the multiscalar and multi-sited fieldwork this research requires, viz. global ethnography and theories of assemblage and transnational class formation. I triangulate data from government, media, and company reports, field site observations, and semi-structured interviews with the boosters, brokers, bureaucrats, and businessmen who assemble Chinese capital with Brazilian agribusiness, and situate this material in relation to similar data about the political ecological struggles unfolding at the sites of investment across Brazil. Thus, my research reveals (1) the forms of power and interest bring these investments into being, and (2) their effect upon the Brazilian territory, model of development, and environment. Ultimately, I argue we can distinguish between “Paper Tigers”, companies that were feared as powerful land grabbers and relied on Brazilian political contacts but largely failed to effectively establish themselves in Brazil, and “Dragon Heads”, companies that undertook global-level mergers and acquisitions to bypass the challenges of management and socio-ecological resistance. Shifting theoretical and methodological focus to the career interests and assemblage methods undertaken by transnational agribusiness professionals who plan, produce, and profit from these endeavors, my scholarship reveals Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness are not determined by institutional characteristics and international relations, but rather by the class and ecological contradictions that undergird transnational agribusiness in these new hubs of global capital.

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira is assistant professor in the Department of Global and International Studies at UC Irvine. He obtained his PhD in geography from UC Berkeley, a postdoctoral fellowship in environmental studies at Swarthmore College, and was visiting assistant professor of economic geography at Peking University. His current book project examines Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness and infrastructure. His work has been published in Development and Change, Globalizations, the Journal of Latin American Geography, Journal of Peasant Studies, and Territory, Politics, Governance, among others. He co-edited (with Susanna Hecht) a special issue of the Journal of Peasant Studies that has been republished as a book Soy, Globalization, and Environmental Politics in South America (Routledge, 2018), and is co-editing special issues on “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Views from the Ground” for the journal Political Geography and another on “New Insights on Land Grabs in the BRICS and Global South” for the journal Globalizations.
For more information about the Colloquium Series, please contact Professor Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Global Studies Colloquium Director:

 UCSB Social Sciences and Media Studies Building, SSMS Conference Room 2001 (2nd Floor)


Dr. Oliveira presents at the symposium on Politics in Contemporary Brazil, UC Irvine

“The diseases of Brazil-China agroindustrialization.”

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira, Department of Global and International Studies, UC Irvine

Invited presentation to the symposium Politics in Contemporary Brazil, organized by the Jack W. Peltason Center for the Study of Democracy and Latin American Studies Center, University of California Irvine.

Social and Behavioral Science Gateway 1511, 9:00 am – 4:15 pm, February 3, 2020.

This one-day workshop brings together Brazilian scholars focused on some of the pressing issues in the country through the lenses of political science. It offers diverse accounts about democracy, public policy, reforms and contemporary issues in a country that has experienced major political changes over the past decade. Since 2013, Brazil has witnessed massive street protests, profound political polarization, a presidential impeachment, corruption scandals, deep economic crisis and the rise of far-right populism. The workshop looks at this changing context in order to shed light on a myriad of topics of Brazilian Politics.

Dr. Oliveira’s presentation sketches a new direction for research in global political ecology and public health, examining the myriad ways in which the process of agro-industrialization that has deepened through Brazil-China economic integration is associated with increasing prevalence of plant, animal, and human diseases.


For further information contact Ricardo Fabrino Mendonça: ricardofabrino@hotmail.com

Dr. Oliveira presents at the UC Berkeley Latin American Leadership Society Bi-annual Forum

Is Brazil economic prey to Chinese agribusiness investors?

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira, Department of Global and International Studies, UC Irvine

Invited presentation to the UC Berkeley Latin American Leadership Society Bi-annual Forum: Brazil, Economic Prey, Development

230 Cheit Hall, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

December 5, 2019 5:00 – 7:30pm

The UC Berkeley Latin American Leadership Society (LLS) is made up of people from very diverse backgrounds with profound interest in Latin America, be it the current political and economical scene, the region’s rich culture and traditions, or the growing influence of Latin American communities in the United States. The LLS bi-annual forum is one of its main mediums for educating UC Berkeley about the current topics in Latin America. Every semester, the Latin American Leadership Society (LLS) exercises the great honor to host distinguished guests from around Latin America. Our past speakers include Former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, Mexican political analyst and academic, Denise Dresser, Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice, Luís Roberto Barroso, Emmy nominated journalist and producer, Andrés Cediel—just to name a few. The aim is to cover different areas of interest and disciplines that ultimately unites keen UC Berkeley students to promote collaboration between nations and to contribute to the development of Latin America. This semester the forum will focus on development and economic prey in Brazil.

Guest speakers:

Gustavo Oliveira has extensive research experience in fields like Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness and infrastructure, global political ecology, race, and environment to name a few. Oliveira is also a professor at the University of California, Irvine and is a UC Berkeley alumnus!

Flavio Feferman has extensive research experience in fields like entrepreneurship and innovation in developing regions, the role of business and technology in economic development, innovation clusters and regional economic development, agricultural development, entrepreneurial education, and international consulting. Feferman is also a professor for UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Bruno Meyerhof Salama is Professor of Law at the FGV School of Law at São Paulo, Brazil, where he is also a director of the Center for Law, Economics, and Governance!

Contact: Karina Cortes Garcia, karcortesg@berkeley.edu

Dr. Oliveira interviewed by Sputnik News (Beijing)

Brazilian expert: The “Belt and Road Initiative” is good for Brazil but the country should defend its own interests

Dr. Oliveira interviewed by Sputnik News (Beijing), the Russian Satellite News Agency, Beijing office.

Evgenii Aferin, Sputnik News Agency Beijing, November 20, 2019

Excerpts from original English statements provided by Gustavo Oliveira

Gustavo Oliveira, an assistant professor in the Department of Global and International Studies at the University of California, Irvine, said: “Some Brazilian sectors welcome the BRI, especially agribusiness, mining, and logistics (especially ports), since they already have strong market access to China and seek improved infrastructure to facilitate exports.”

Oliveira pointed out that “the Brazilian government wants to attract Chinese capital and partners while retaining control over the projects and priorities in the initiative.”

Oliveira also said that “other industries are skeptical about the ‘Belt and Road’ because Brazilian industrial enterprises and production infrastructure companies regard Chinese companies as their main competitors. The current Brazilian government is trying to coordinate these conflicting interests, arguing they ‘welcome the synergies’ between China’s BRI and Brazil’s own national projects for infrastructure construction.”

For the full length interview (in Chinese), see:


Dr. Oliveira presents new research at the UCI Long US-China Institute

Assembling China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira

Assistant Professor, Department of Global and International Studies, UCI

October 21, 2019

3:00p.m. – 4:30p.m.

Humanities Gateway, Room 1010

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) evolved from promotion of Eurasian connectivity into a catchall for Chinese foreign policy and infrastructure investments worldwide. Although usually portrayed as a top-down geopolitical project of the Chinese central government, I argue the BRI is actually shaped by converging and diverging interests of a wide variety of actors within and outside China. In order to conceptualize the relational, contingent, and unstable emergence of the BRI in Latin America, I draw upon methods of global ethnography and theories of assemblage. I springboard from my research on Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness and related infrastructure and examine how the BRI incorporated Latin America through policy and discourse analysis. Then I demonstrate the multi-scalar and multi-sited production of Chinese-funded port and railroad infrastructures in Brazil. Ultimately, I argue these theories and methods of global studies enable us to ask more useful and critical questions about the BRI and China’s relations with Latin America.

Faculty work-in-progress lecture for the UCI Long US-China Institute

Contact: Dr. Emily Baum, emily.baum@uci.edu

Dr. Oliveira interviewed on the Belt and Road Podcast

Soy and Sinophobia: China’s Place in Brazilian Agribusiness

Dr. Gustavo Oliveira talks about Chinese agribusiness investments in Brazil, the rising importance of the soy trade between the two countries, and the ways domestic and international business interests have fanned the flames of Sinophobia for strategic gains. Dr. Oliveira is a Brazilian scholar and activist and an Assistant Professor of Global & International Studies at University of California, Irvine.

The Belt and Road Podcast covers the latest news, research and analysis of China’s growing presence in the developing world. It is produced by Erik Myxter-Iino (Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions) and Juliet Lu (University of California, Berkeley).

For the full 71 minute interview, see:


Belt and Road Podcast, Episode 19

October 21, 2019