2019 was a year of major public policy advancements in the U.S.-Brazil relationship. We witnessed concrete progress in areas from defense to intellectual property protection to visa facilitation.
Here are the biggest accomplishments the U.S.-Brazil relationship drove in 2019:
1. Establishing the Technology Safeguard Agreement: Among the important public commitments reached in bilateral government meetings, the crowning achievement was the Technology Safeguard agreement (TSA). After decades of stop-and-go negotiations, the countries finally signed an agreement that establishes technical safeguards to support U.S. space launches from Brazil’s Alcantara base, a move that lowers launch costs because of the base’s proximity to the equator. The agreement and a promise of closer collaboration positions cooperation in the commercial satellite industry to thrive in 2020.
2. Recognition of Brazil as a non-NATO ally: U.S. recognition of Brazil as a major non-NATO ally was another example of a milestone in the long-standing relationship. The time is now ripe to launch a large-scale U.S.-Brazil defense projects.
3. Waiving visa requirements for American tourists in Brazil: Strategic cooperation is just one component of the bilateral partnership. Brazil’s move to waive visas for American tourists and a U.S. Global Entry pilot program for Brazil demonstrate an increase in trust that will bring dividends as these measures facilitate the movement of people between the two countries. In an environment of tightening border security in the Americas, these developments reflect positively on the U.S.-Brazil relationship.
4. Announcing U.S. support for Brazil’s membership in OECD: 2019 also marked a step forward in economic policy, as the U.S. publicly voiced its support for Brazil’s accession to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). With U.S. backing, Brazil is now solidly on the path toward accession and membership. The U.S. and Brazilian private sectors expect the U.S. to revisit its priority list of support in 2020.
5. Developing stronger IP protections: On the intellectual property (IP) front, the two countries agreed to a new patent agreement with expanded scope: a bold idea of the Brazilian government to create a patent prosecution agreement to collaborate with key commercial allies. While there is room for improvement, the U.S. rightly viewed the agreement as a recognition of the importance of IP protection to innovation and to U.S. investment in Brazil.
6. Driving market-friendly economic policies: Domestically, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro government’s strong market-friendly message was consistent throughout the year. Prompted by the executive branch, the Brazilian Congress approved a comprehensive pension reform, a historic achievement that will improve the country’s fiscal position. The Brazilian Congress also approved significant measures to reduce red tape (the Economic Freedom law), to harmonize the management and organization of regulatory agencies, and to protect personal data. The National Legislature also signed off on two important international agreements: The Protocol of Revision of the International Convention for the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs (Revised Kyoto Convention) and the Madrid Protocol on Trademarks. These accomplishments prove that the administration’s pro-business views translate into tangible progress, providing legislative momentum for further reforms – welcome news for U.S. companies doing business in Brazil.
At the executive level, it is commendable the work being done by the ministries, which have been acting in synergy, aiming to bring more transparency and less bureaucracy to the country.
The many accomplishments of this year set a high bar for 2020, especially in the defense, innovation, and investment areas. 2019 set the stage, and private-sector actors are now eager to see how these policy gains translate into commercial opportunities that boost economic development and deepen the U.S.- Brazilian partnership.