Brazil and US Talk Defense

The third dialogue between partner nations will happen in Brazil, in 2019.
Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo | 6 September 2018

International Relations

Brazilian Navy Vice Admiral Marcelo Francisco Campos, director of the Ministry of Defense’s Business Bureau, and Maria Cameron, acting deputy director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Department of Commerce, discuss defense priorities and cooperation between both countries. (Photo: Brazilian Ministry of Defense Public Affairs Office)

About 100 technical representatives from the Brazilian and U.S. governments and private sectors attended a meeting to discuss long-term priorities between both countries in preparation for the 3rd U.S.-Brazil Defense Industry Dialogue (DID). The June preparatory meeting took place at the Naval War College, in Rio de Janeiro. The 3rd DID, to be coordinated by the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, is scheduled for 2019 in Brazil.

“We are intensifying international activity and, for that, we want to show what we develop in our country. It’s crucial that the Ministry of Defense promotes these activities,” said Giacomo Staniscia, business director at Atech, a branch of Brazilian company Embraer Group that specializes in solution and technology development.

Brazil is among the United States’ largest commercial partner in Latin America for the defense industry, second only to Mexico. “We are the two largest countries in the hemisphere; we need to continue to work together and build new partnerships. This interpersonal relationship is very important to enable these collaborations,” said Maria Cameron, acting deputy director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

According to Brazilian Navy Vice Admiral Marcelo Francisco Campos, director of the Business Bureau of the Ministry of Defense and in charge of the Defense Products Office, the preparatory meeting was positive. “Partnerships are being implemented, but the companies keep them confidential to avoid business loss. Nonetheless, to facilitate and expedite the process, industrial associations intend to put together a business plan to map out possible points of interest and needs for executives of each country,” said Vice Adm. Campos. 

Working groups

Four working groups were created to facilitate discussions and the exchange of information. The groups are divided by topic: business partnerships, to encourage business opportunities among companies of both countries; binational cooperation, to select government programs; space, to speed up the agreement with the United States for launches from the Alcântara Launch Center in the state of Maranhão; and policy, to identify obstacles to regulatory and industrial policies.

“Participation to these working groups is open to the defense industry. Companies should request inclusion in the Brazilian Association of Defense and Security Materiel Industries, indicating in which working groups they want to participate. Likewise, the Brazil-U.S. Business Council is responsible for entering U.S. defense companies on the U.S. side,” Vice Adm. Campos said.

According to the officer, working groups facilitate direct contact between the industry and government agencies of both countries, creating a space for debates, clarifications, exchanges, and suggestions. To maintain work continuity, groups either meet periodically or propose phone conferences, webinars, or meet during trade shows of mutual interest, depending on their needs.

About 100 technical representatives from the Brazilian and American governments and private sectors attended the preparatory meeting for the 3rd U.S.-Brazil Defense Industry Dialogue. (Photo: Brazilian Ministry of Defense Public Affairs Office)

Progress in dialogue

The first DID was held in September 2016 in Brasília, when both countries signed a letter of intent to expand bilateral partnership and open the doors to potential new business. A lot of progress has been made since then.

On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Brazilian Ministry of Defense signed an information exchange agreement to expand research collaboration and develop new technologies. On April 4th, U.S. and Brazilian defense companies Rockwell Collins and Savis e Bradar signed an agreement to assess business opportunities. In mid-May, a Brazilian government delegation visited facilities of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, in Silicon Valley.

The second DID took place in October 2017, in Washington, D.C. For Vice Adm. Campos, the continuity already demonstrates the success of the dialogues. “An example is the space sector, where significant advances were made during previous DID meetings. It will certainly be a topic of discussion in the next meeting.”

On August 13, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis visited Brazil for the first time to reinforce the importance of bilateral relations and increase trade with the country. During his visit, Mattis met with Brazilian Defense Minister Joaquim Silva e Luna and Foreign Affairs Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira Filho, to discuss options to leverage cooperation in science and technology and the defense industry. 

Future perspectives

According to Vice Adm. Campos, priorities for the next DID are to identify and remove the legislative, regulatory, and practical impediments; bring together industries from the United States and Brazil; identify opportunities for U.S. and Brazilian armed forces and federal police; support initiatives to facilitate business implementation; and identify and define binational projects. It’s necessary to “work toward implementing joint projects and partnerships,” he said. “In the short term there is a need to implement the U.S.-Brazil Technology Safeguards Agreement to benefit both parties and enable the use of the Alcântara Launch Center as well as technological activities and cooperation.”

Vice Adm. Campos believes many business opportunities exists for both countries in the security field, such as “the use of unmanned aerial vehicle aircraft for border control, smart cities technology, and the E-Gates system application [automated immigration border control systems] at control points along the land border.” 

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