Michel Temer, President of Brazil, outlined his country’s reaction to the United State’s announcement of higher import tariffs for steel and aluminium last week. Brazil is expected to be one of the countries most affected by the move.
Brazil is reaching out to its American customers to launch a joint lobbying effort designed to convince the US Congress to overturn the measures. In parallel, Brazilian diplomats are talking to the World Trade Organization and other affected nations about filing a joint complaint against the new tariffs. “We need to be very careful about our relations with the United States,” said Temer, noting that the US ranks second only to China as Brazil’s most important trading partner.
Temer made his comments in response to a question from Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, during the opening plenary session of the World Economic Forum on Latin America, which is taking place in São Paulo, Brazil.
On the same panel, Aloysio Nunes Ferreira Filho, Minister of External Relations of Brazil, noted that Brazil’s US customers for steel include automakers and home appliance manufacturers. “Those workers celebrating next to President Trump [during the signing ceremony] are also consumers of cars and home appliances,” Nunes said. “We are going to make an effort to demonstrate the negative impacts.”
Nunes also made a reference to Brazilian imports of US coal to fuel its steel plants. “These things need to be taken into consideration.”
The plenary session included the participation of Geraldo Alckmin Filho, Governor of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, and João Doria, Mayor of São Paulo. Alckmin also touched on the trade issue, saying that “some are moving in the direction of protectionism, which is wrong.”
The plenary also served as the venue for two awards. The Forum gave its Global Citizen Award to Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pelé), Director of Empresas Pelé, Brazil. The former football star is emblematic of the notion of “fair play,” Schwab said. “What we need more than anything in global affairs is fair play.”
“We’re talking about the future of Brazil,” said Pelé. “Today I can see how important football has been for Brazil. Football provides income and attracts business. Brazil has demonstrated this.”
In addition, Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-Founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, presented the Latin American Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Valdeci Ferreira, Executive Director of the Fraternity of Assistance to Convicts (FBAC). FBAC provides a “cost-effective alternative” to public prisons, while reducing rates of recidivism.
The World Economic Forum on Latin America is taking place in São Paulo on 13-15 March.