Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Trade repercussions from Brazil spying?

Various opinions expressed on the possibility of repercussions, temporary or otherwise, on commercial relations with Brazil (Stephanie Nolen, "Spying allegations throw cold water on Canada's trade and business plans in Brazil," Globe and Mail, 8 October 2013):
All of Canada’s negotiations and new ventures with Brazil may be put on ice until there is a resolution to the question of what a Canadian spy agency was doing snooping on one of the South American country’s ministries, says a leading Brazilian expert on relations with North America.

“If they take the same position with Canada as they took with the United States [after similar revelations of spying last month] then everything will be stopped, all the major things,” said Rubens Barbosa, a former Brazilian ambassador to the United States. “The agreements, anything to do with government and the U.S., was put on hold and is still on hold and they may take the same view with Canada.”

...

“I know that Canada was beginning to discuss with Mercosul – this is not going ahead, up and until the Brazilian government is satisfied with what Canada has to say,” said Mr. Barbosa. Mercosul is the free trade zone of several South American nations, and when Foreign Minister John Baird was here in August, he and his Brazilian counterpart held talks about Canada joining the bloc.

Mr. Barbosa added that “the Brazilian government doesn’t care” what the fallout may be of a tough stand – the question of sovereignty comes first.

...

But Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Institute in Sao Paulo, said it is still too early to tell what the political fallout from these revelations will be. “It’s not politically interesting to blast Canada in the Brazilian context – it’s not going to get you any votes,” he said. “Of course, there is a sense among policy makers that spying does exist, that countries do it: the element of surprise political leaders showed was partly theatre.”

Because Canadian firms had no major deals on the table – like a pending Brazilian order for fighter jets for which the U.S. firm Boeing was angling hard, for example – the costs might be limited, he added.
See also this piece on military relations with Brazil: Murray Brewster, "Spying allegations put Canada-Brazil military ties at risk: experts," Canadian Press, 8 October 2013.

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