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LATIN AMERICA | 10-10-2019 12:27

US turns down Brazil’s OECD bid, despite having endorsed it

US government decides not to endorse Brazil’s bid to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, marking a reversal after months of public support from top officials. However, Washington indicates it does support membership claims from Argentina and Romania.

The US government has declined to endorse Brazil’s bid to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), marking a reversal after months of public support from top officials.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo rejected a request to discuss further enlargement of the richest-countries club, according to a copy of a letter sent to the OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría on August 28 and seen by Bloomberg News. He added that Washington only backed the membership bids of Argentina and Romania.

“The US continues to prefer enlargement at a measured pace that takes into account the need to press for governance and succession planning,” the letter stated.

The message contradicts Washington's public stance on the matter. In March, US President Donald Trump told a joint press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House that he supported Brazil joining the 36-member group. In July, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross reiterated Washington’s backing for Brazil during a visit to São Paulo.

The US is supportive of measured OECD enlargement and an eventual invitation to Brazil, but is working for Argentina and Romania first given these countries’ economic reform efforts and commitment to free markets, a senior US official said, declining to be identified because the person is not authorised to discuss internal policy deliberations in public.

The Brazilian government didn’t reply to repeated requests for comment. An OECD press official in Paris didn’t immediately provide a comment.

The US endorsement earlier this year was one of first clear benefits to come from Bolsonaro’s close alignment with the Trump administration. During Bolsonaro’s trip to Washington, Brazil offered the US access to the Alcântara rocket launch pad in the north-east of the country, visa-free travel for US tourists and cooperation on Venezuela. Trump, in return, delivered on his commitment to designate Brazil as a "Major Non-NATO ally." Critics of the deal had questioned whether the US support would materialise.

The OECD, founded in 1961, says on its website it aims to “shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all.” Joining the group has been lately a badge of honour for countries looking to show the international community that their nations have economically prospered.

Brazil submitted its application for OECD membership in May 2017.

by Samy Adghirni & Justin Sink, Bloomberg

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