U.S. withholds support for Brazil OECD bid despite Trump endorsement: sources

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The U.S. government has not formally backed Brazil’s bid to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development despite a public endorsement by President Donald Trump, according to two Brazilians who saw a U.S. letter to the OECD.

The officials, who asked not to be named because of diplomatic sensitivities, said a letter sent to the club of wealthy nations in late August by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed the bids by Argentina and Romania but made no mention of Brazil.

The omission may frustrate right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has held Trump up as a role model and touted U.S. support for Brazil’s OECD bid as one of the achievements of his nine-month-old government.

Standing next to Bolsonaro outside the White House on March 19, Trump announced his support for Brazil to become a full member of the OECD, a forum of three dozen democratic nations with solid market economies.

The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia said in a carefully worded statement that Washington stands by Trump’s joint statement with Bolsonaro and encourages Brazil to begin the process to become a full member of the OECD.

“We support the enlargement of the OECD at a measured pace that takes into account the need to press for governance reforms and succession planning,” the statement said, adding that all 36 OECD members must agree by consensus to the timing and order of invitations to begin the OECD accession process.

Brazil’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In December, a Brazilian government report said the main obstacle to its request to join the OECD, first made in May 2017, was opposition by the United States and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in particular.

In Latin America, only Chile and Mexico are in the club, while Colombia is on track to join soon.

Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Brad Haynes, Peter Cooney and Cynthia Osterman

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