Bolsonaro and Trump dine over defense deal

. Mar 07, 2020
donald trump jair bolsonaro U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Alan Santos/PR

Amid a turbulent day in which involved canceling a visit to the Center for Disease Control and Health over a coronavirus scare, rescheduling the meeting under pressure, and then delivering a garbled statement on the CDC’s “beautiful” Covid-19 tests, U.S. President Donald Trump also found time to announce his plans for the weekend. As is customary, Mr. Trump is jetting off to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, where he will be hosting one of his biggest fans for dinner: Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

</p> <p>His Brazilian counterpart is beginning an official four-day visit to Florida and, according to Mr. Trump, &#8220;he really wanted to have dinner.&#8221; However, besides giving Mr. Bolsonaro the <a href="">Mar-a-Lago tour</a>, the pair will also have much to discuss, not least a recently agreed military deal that could give Brazilian companies an entryway into the world&#8217;s biggest military defense market.</p> <div id="buzzsprout-player-1078967"></div> <script src=";player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Opening up the U.S. defense market to Brazil</h2> <p>The agreement is a so-called Research, Development, Test &amp; Evaluation (RDT&amp;E) deal, which will allow the U.S. and Brazilian governments to sign defense projects and hire Brazilian companies to carry them out. The deal would also allow Brazilian contractors to make use of U.S. laboratories and technologies in a model of shared intellectual property.</p> <p>The RDT&amp;E agreement would give Brazilian defense companies increased access to the biggest market in the world for their industry, and it could offer them the chance to expand this footprint to other NATO countries in the future.</p> <p>In 2019, after a state visit from Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump declared Brazil as a major non-NATO ally. With this RDT&amp;E agreement, Brazilian companies would have a better chance of being awarded contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense, but also from its 28 NATO counterparts, which also have access to the massive American defense fund.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Years in the making</h2> <p>While the agreement will be heralded as a sign of the &#8220;close relationship&#8221; Jair Bolsonaro has with the U.S. President, negotiations on the deal began back in 2017 under then-President Michel Temer, and was initially sought out by the U.S. government.</p> <p>The RDT&amp;E agreement will be signed during Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s stay in Florida, but cannot come into force until it is ratified by both nations&#8217; legislative branches. As far as Brazil&#8217;s Congress is concerned, this could be a bump in the road.</p> <p>The legislative agenda is full to the brim at the present time, with lawmakers rushing to approve as many bills as possible before Congress goes into a de facto recess, ahead of the municipal elections in October. As of July in any given election year, precious little gets done in Brazil&#8217;s congressional houses, meaning Mr. Bolsonaro would have only four months to get the Legislature to sign on the dotted line.</p> <p>Last year, Congress signed off on a technology safeguards agreement between Brazil and the U.S., facilitating the launch of American satellites from the Alcântara Launch Center in the Northeast of Brazil. While the final agreement took six months between signing and congressional ratification, previous deals leading up to this pact have languished for several years without being green-lit by lawmakers.</p> <div id="buzzsprout-player-2785333"></div> <script src=";player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Mr. Bolsonaro goes to Florida</h2> <p>Later this morning, Jair Bolsonaro will fly directly from the Air Force Base in Boa Vista to Palm Beach, and his meeting with Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago is scheduled for 5.30 pm local time. On Sunday, the Brazilian president will visit spend the morning at the U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Greater Miami, and on Monday he will take part in the Brazil-United States Business Seminar after a meeting with Senator Marco Rubio.</p> <p>Before returning to Brazil, Mr. Bolsonaro will also visit the Florida factory of <a href="">planemaker Embraer</a>, as well as appearing at the Brazil-United States International Conference.

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Euan Marshall

Originally from Scotland, Euan Marshall is a journalist who ditched his kilt and bagpipes for a caipirinha and a football in 2011, when he traded Glasgow for São Paulo. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, he authored a comprehensive history of Brazilian soccer entitled “A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.”

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