Washington, Sep 14 (IANS) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised his Brazilian counterpart that exchanges of goods and services between the two countries will increase but made no mention of a possible bilateral free-trade deal.
“All of Brazil’s efforts give the United States great confidence to cooperate in new ways. We’re going to grow our trade relationship that already accounts for more than $100 billion annually,” Pompeo said at a joint press conference with Ernesto Araujo at the State Department on Friday, Efe news reported.
The US’s top diplomat hailed the strong partnership between President Donald Trump’s administration and the government of rightist Brazilian head of state Jair Bolsonaro in terms of the economy and regional security.
He also said Brazil was a key partner in helping confront the “man-made crisis in Venezuela and push back against tyrants in Cuba and Nicaragua.”
“Together we’re seizing the opportunity to cement a future of security, prosperity and democracy for our people and for the entire hemisphere,” Pompeo said.
For his part, Araujo said Brazil and the US have a “common vision, a common philosophy,” adding that their ties “can be and must be even stronger.”
He said the two administrations are trying to translate that vision into their economic exchanges and that that process is advancing very quickly and responds to the “huge expectations from our private sector and productive sector, which we’re seeing again in the area of security and defence.”
Neither Pompeo nor Araujo took questions from reporters and did not indicate the current state of bilateral free-trade negotiations.
In late July, Trump said he wanted to negotiate a trade deal with Brazil and praised Bolsonaro as a “great gentleman” with whom he has a “fantastic relationship.”
Brazil and the US started negotiating a trade deal at that time, but few details are known about those discussions.
In remarks to reporters on Thursday, Araujo said the talks are currently focused on establishing quotas for the exchange of specific goods, such as beef and steel, and that negotiators later will set the terms of a deal that eliminates or substantially lowers tariffs.
In 2011, Brazil and the US signed an agreement to facilitate exchanges of goods and services, but that trade pact did not end cross-border duties.
Trade between the US and Brazil amounted to $103.9 billion in 2018, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.