Brazil welcomed U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on April 24 with calls for more military technology to increase cooperation.
On his first trip to Latin America as defense secretary, Panetta met with his counterpart Celso Amorim in Brasilia, for a visit focused on technical matters and cooperation.
“Brazil imports many things from the United States, but sometimes Brazil needs competition, exchange in the other direction, and given the entirely peaceful nature of all our projects, I expressed my expectations that this whole positive climate that is being created can be reflected in the acquisition of those assets,” Amorim said at a press conference with Panetta.
“It’s not a matter of scientific research, but rather in order to really produce,” he added.
The Brazilian demands are framed by a very concrete case: for almost half a decade, Brasilia has wanted to purchase around 36 fighter planes to modernize its Air Force, a huge contract worth up to 5 billion dollars, for which U.S. firm Boeing, French firm Dassault, and Swedish manufacturer Saab are competing.
Brazil does not want only the fighters, but rather all the technology that accompanies them.
There is no news on that topic, Amorim said, affirming that he understood the impatience of all the competitors.
“I recognize the importance of these technologies to Brazil,” Panetta said for his part.
The United States has granted around 4,000 technology export licenses in favor of Brazil in the last two years, the U.S. official affirmed.
“We have an opportunity to work even more closely (…) To that end (…) we discussed a number of priority areas (…) that I believe hold some great promise,” he added, mentioning cybersecurity and military research among them.
“We stress the importance of defense trade” and recognize its impact on “jobs and opportunities” for Brazil, Panetta said.
The U.S. defense secretary traveled to Brasilia with the intention of convincing the South American giant of both countries’ mutual interest in intensifying their cooperation in the fight against organized crime and on other issues, such as cybersecurity.
There is another pending issue between the two countries: a contract with Brazilian aviation firm Embraer, worth 380 million dollars, that was cancelled by the Pentagon following complaints by a rival U.S. company.
The Pentagon had to hurry to open another public competition in response to Brazilians’ anger.
Panetta arrived in Brasilia from Colombia, where he announced that he was authorizing the sale of ten helicopters to fight the insurgency, and he travelled to Santiago de Chile on April 26.