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Obama, Rousseff take up security concerns

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Brasilia, Brazil (UPI) Mar 21, 2011
U.S. President Barack Obama and Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff issued strong support for pursuing projects that reflected shared security concerns for the Americas, heralding a potential boost for defense industries, at the start of the U.S. president's tour of Latin America.

Before Obama's arrival, talks advanced on expanded collaboration that could see U.S. defense industries taking a more active role in Brazil's planned expansion of military manufacturing, transfer of technologies from more advanced industries in North America and Europe and extended purchases of defense equipment for Brazilian armed forces. The contracts were variously valued at up to $9 billion.

Brazil has announced long-term development of its defense industries and is keen to forge closer ties with companies and countries that are prepared to share at least some of their technologies in return for new export countries.

Brazil has already received pledges of extensive technology transfers from France. However much of the technology transfer is dependent on French firms winning lucrative Brazilian defense procurement contracts, including one for jet fighters.

Obama's arrival in Brazil signaled the start of vigorous lobbying for the Boeing Co.'s FA-18 Super Hornet winning the contract in preference over France's Rafale, the Dassault Aviation fighter that has yet to win an export order.

White House officials told reporters in Brasilia "the F-18 issue did come up" during talks between Obama and Rousseff.

No one on either side expects an early decision on a possible jet deal, mainly because of Brazilian insistence on guarantees that deals agreed by the executive won't be blocked when they go to U.S. Congress for approval.

Obama's five-day Latin American tour aims to open the region to increased U.S. exports, a part of the presidential strategy to stimulate job-creating business opportunities.

Obama is also aiming to secure new business on stops in Chile and El Salvador.

Although Boeing's FA-18 faces main competition from the French Rafale, it also needs to counter backers in Brazilian armed forces of the Swedish Saab's Gripen NG fighter jet.

A statement said the two presidents "highlighted the maturity and depth of the relationship between Brazil and the United States, which is based on shared values and principles and characterized by the ties of friendship that have brought their multicultural nations closer throughout their histories as independent States."

After the talks the two sides decided "to elevate to the presidential level" the major dialogues between the two countries, including the Global Partnership Dialogue, the Economic and Finance Dialogue, and the Strategic Energy Dialogue. The presidents directed the ministers involved to convene and report to them regularly.

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