Bolsonaro in 2019 photo; president celebrated on social media as it is actually temporary Image: Alan Santos / PR DisclosurePresident went to social networks to celebrate a temporary and seasonal measure, which does not represent a change in the bilateral relationship of countries.
After a recent sequence of diplomatic defeats to the United States in bilateral trade, President Jair Bolsonaro went to Twitter on Monday, day 21, announced that Americans will increase the purchase of Brazilian sugar by 80 thousand tons, and together with a photo by Chancellor Ernesto Araújo, stated that this is “the first result of the recently opened Brazil-USA negotiations for the sugar and alcohol sector”.
The demonstration comes weeks after Brazilian steel has been cut in more than 80% of American imports and Brazil has renewed an exemption from tariffs on the entry of almost 200 million liters of American ethanol into the country, which the sugar and alcohol sector classified as “huge sacrifice”.
According to sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations heard by BBC News Brasil, the Foreign Ministry reportedly took steps to try to collaborate with the president’s reelection campaign Donald Trump, which has part of its electoral base among steel workers and corn farmers.
Officially, Chancellor Araújo stated that the concession was necessary to open negotiations that could result in a 140% reduction in tariff barriers that the Americans have imposed on Brazilian sugar for decades.
But the negotiations went down badly politically and generated criticism of the country’s subservience to its preferred ally. The tension still increased after Araújo served as a cicerone to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a lightning visit to Roraima last Friday, when the American criticized the Venezuelan regime.
“In general, there is a perception that Brazil is not being treated fairly before the United States, so the government is trying to advertise something trivial and expected, to seek a balance in this image for its public” , an ambassador specialized in international trade privately told BBC News Brasil.
According to the diplomat, this is “trivial” and “expected” because although the president suggests that there was a permanent increase in the amount of sugar that Brazil could export to the Americans, what actually happened was a temporary relocation of suppliers made by the Americans.
The United States imports more than 3 million tons of sugar annually – and gives preference to sellers from Africa or Central America. But, if these usual suppliers do not sell the necessary quantity and there is an under-supply of the American market, the United States Department of Agriculture informs the country’s commercial representative who redirects its purchases to other producers, such as Brazil.
The same thing happened last year and in February of that year, without Bolsonaro making the event a cause for celebration on the networks on these two occasions.
“The United States did Brazil no favors, just reallocated some volume (of sugar) to Brazil, within their general mercantilism. This needs to be clarified, so that it does not look like a diplomatic victory that was not,” said Ambassador Paulo Roberto de Almeida.