Qualcomm Inc. will use Brazil as a platform to launch a new technology for smartphones, Qualcomm’s President for Latin America Rafael Steinhauser said Thursday.

Mr. Steinhauser declined to give specifics about the potential improvements.

The San Diego, Calif., company will partner with electronics makers in Brazil to jointly verify if a manufacturing technology it developed in laboratory is viable for industrial production of cellphone components, Mr. Steinhauser said, without disclosing financial figures.

“It is a new smartphone-manufacturing technology. It could have an impact on performance, size, speed, complexity, or simplicity” Mr. Steinhauser told reporters after signing a letter of intention with government officials in Brasilia.

“These are components that have to do with semiconductors. It is something that isn’t currently in the market, but that will be in the Brazilian market later this year,” he said.

Cellphone makes such as China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and U.S.’s Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. have smartphone plants in Brazil.

The government imposes high import duties on electronics vendors and offers tax breaks if products are manufactured and sourced locally, as a way to encourage the migration of manufacturers to Brazil.

In the past decade Brazil has grown as a top exporter of raw materials such as iron ore, soy and oil. But the South American country lags in more valued exports.

As of March, Brazil had exported over $7 billion in iron ore this year, according to the trade ministry. Its top manufactured export, automobiles, had sold $773 million. The country currently runs a $3.1 billion trade surplus.

Brazilian officials expect the Qualcomm technology to help Brazil compete in the global electronics market.

“We want Brazil to compete also in semiconductors markets and improve our trade balance,” said Ricardo Schaefer, an executive secretary at the trade ministry. He said Brazil runs a $25 billion trade deficit in electronics. “Brazil needs to compete in this global supply chain,” he said.

Mr. Schaefer said that interested firms could start holding meetings with Qualcomm as soon as Friday. They will negotiate deals through which the U.S. company will transfer its technology and certify products made under the licensing agreement, he said.