Brazil Pushing Trade Reforms, Looking at U.S. Ties: Ferraz

˙ Latin America Advisor

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Foreign trade is one of the drivers of a broad set of structural reforms currently underway in Brazil and will remain at the top of the government’s 2021 agenda as it looks to liberalize the economy, Lucas Ferraz, Brazil’s secretary of foreign trade, said Thursday during an event hosted by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.

To expand Brazil’s insertion in the international trade market and the global economy, the South American nation is focusing on trade reforms that include reducing nontariff barriers, overhauling the country’s tariff structure for imports and negotiating new free trade agreements with other countries, Ferraz said. He added that there is a need to tackle import levies in the automobile sector, in which tariffs are set at 35 percent.

Another focal point of Brazil’s foreign trade agenda is its bilateral relationship with the United States, Ferraz said. The United States is currently Brazil’s second-largest export market, primarily for goods such as crude oil, aircrafts, machinery, iron and steel. Ferraz added the Brazilian government “is open to negotiate more ambitious free trade agreements with the United States if it’s possible.”

Another potential avenue for strengthening U.S.-Brazil relations would be to expand the countries’ current limited trade pact, Ferraz said, referencing the Protocol on Trade and Transparency, which the two countries signed last October in an effort to streamline trade processes.

The protocol, which includes provisions on regulatory practices, trade facilitation and anti-corruption efforts, could enhance bilateral trade, he added. Ferraz also proposed an annex that specifically addresses digital trade given increased use of technology and e-commerce growth during the Covid-19 pandemic.

When asked whether he has any concerns regarding steel and agricultural trade between Brazil and the United States, Ferraz said the most significant barriers for imports of agricultural goods are regulatory by nature, adding that the current limited trade pact includes several provisions on the facilitation of agricultural goods trade.

Despite the recent strengthening of U.S.-Brazil trade ties, Ferraz said it could take two or three more months for Brazil to fully implement the two countries’ limited trade accord.

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