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Lawmakers ‘Alarmed’ by Reports U.S. Envoy Told Brazil It Could Help Re-elect Trump

  • August 01, 2020

“That could bring so many benefits to us as Brazilians,” said the younger Mr. Bolsonaro, an ardent supporter of Mr. Trump who wore a “Make Brazil Great Again” baseball cap during a visit to the White House last year.

The United States has long pushed Brazil to lower tariffs on ethanol. Those talks gained a new sense of urgency in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic led to plummeting demand, and American ethanol sellers were squeezed by the trade dispute between Beijing and Washington.

Currently, American ethanol companies can sell up to 750 million liters of ethanol to Brazil per year without paying tariffs. Any sales beyond that are subject to a 20 percent tax. The Brazilian government raised the tariff-free cap last September from 600 million liters — a gesture intended to give Brazilian sugar producers greater access to the American market.

Mr. Trump hailed that move, calling it “great progress for our Farmers.”

But Washington did not make good on the sugar access, which left the Brazilians feeling embittered.

The current ethanol tariff framework is set to expire in August. If the two countries don’t reach a deal, Brazil will apply a 20 percent tax to all ethanol imports, a blow to an industry that is pleading for government bailouts.

Mr. Moreira, the Brazilian congressman who heads the agricultural caucus, said he told Mr. Chapman that Brazilian politicians also had political considerations to consider, given coming municipal elections in September. Ethanol producers in Brazil’s northeast states would look dimly on tariff rules that put them at a competitive disadvantage.

“Is the ethanol producer very important electorally speaking? Yes, very important,” Mr. Moreira said. “We very much like the American people, but we like our people more.”

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