Brazil, Russia Cement Diplomatic And Trade Relations as Trade Hits US$10 Billion

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Brazil comes in for intense US and EU criticisms after calls for peace in Ukraine as Moscow signs off bilateral trade deals 

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has been visiting Brazil as part of a Latin America tour. He has been meeting with the Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira on a trip that will also take in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. Both Brazil and Russia are members of the BRICS group of countries.

Vieira said that “The fact that the Russian 2023 Foreign Policy Concept mentions Brazil separately and not as a member of MERCOSUR and BRICS, as it was in the 2016 concept, shows the gravitas of our country, and our course aimed at bringing Brazil’s foreign policy back to its roots. In fact, both our countries play important roles in international communication. This aspect of Russia’s understanding of foreign policy priorities indicates the mature nature of bilateral relations and makes it clear that like Brazil, Russia also believes that bilateral ties are crucial for the system of international relations.”

Brazil is named among Russia’s priority partners in Latin America along with Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in the 2023 Concept. Our analysis on the Russian 2023 Foreign Policy Concept and its impact on BRICS can be read here.

Vieira also pointed out that Brazil’s Foreign Ministry is working on developing such other cooperations with Russia aimed at boosting mutually beneficial cooperation between Moscow and other LatAm countries in the political, trade, economic, educational, humanitarian, cultural and other fields.

Brazil-US-EU-Ukraine Controversy

Vieira also stated that unilateral economic sanctions imposed on Russia in bypassing the UN Security Council harm developing nations, in comments that have angered the United States. “I reiterated to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Brazil’s position on unilateral sanctions. Apart from not having been coordinated with the UN Security Council, they have negative consequences for economies around the world, especially for developing countries, many of which have not yet recovered from the pandemic.” he said after meeting Lavrov.

That was followed up by statements by the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who commented “The United States needs to stop encouraging war and start talking about peace, and the European Union needs to start talking about peace.”  That was immediately rebuffed by Washington, who accused Lula of “parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda without looking at the facts.” Lula had visited China to meet with President Xi Jinping the week prior to Lavrov’s visit.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, said on Monday (April 17) that Lula’s comments were ” deeply problematic and misguided” and missed the mark by “suggesting the United States and Europe are somehow not interested in peace, or that we share responsibility for the war.”

In response, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira said of Mr Kirby: “I don’t know how or why he reached that conclusion, but I do not agree at all.”

So far among Western nations, only French President Emmanuel Macron has welcomed Lula’s peace initiative. The Brazilian leader has also called the West to halt arms supplies to Ukraine – an initiative that has been roundly criticized in the US and EU. The debate has widened the growing gap between Brazil and the United States, and between the Global community and the collective West.

Bilateral Trade

The Russian and Brazilian delegations, led by the foreign ministers, held talks yesterday (April 17) at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where numerous Brazilian economists see Russia’s economic isolation under Western sanctions as an opportunity to enhance economic relations. In 2022, Brazil marked a record US$9.8 billion in bilateral trade with Russia. Lavrov and Vieira also discussed plans to increase Brazilian meat exports to Russia and fertiliser imports for Brazilian farmers.

The two countries have also agreed to continue to align and coordinate the two countries’ approaches in international affairs, the Russian Foreign Ministry has stated, mentioning that “Special attention was given to key issues on the global agenda and to regional problems, including cooperation between Russia and Brazil on multilateral platforms, at the United Nations, and its Security Council, BRICS, and the G20. The parties confirmed their intention to continue to compare positions by the Foreign Ministries of the two countries with the aim of aligning and coordinating approaches on the world stage.”

We will be providing further updates on Sergey Lavrov’s Latin America tour and discussing the trade and geopolitical results. To keep up to date with Russian trade and economic analysis, please take a complimentary subscription to Russia Briefing here. Doing so provides free access to businesses guides, reports and our weekly Russia Weekly business update.

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