U.S. backs Brazil for OECD membership ahead of Argentina

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The United States’ change of stance to support Brazil’s bid to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ahead of Argentina was welcomed by the Brazilian government on Tuesday.

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The U.S. government’s plans, after having previously said they wanted Argentina to be next in line to join the rich nations’ club, are a win for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a longtime admirer of U.S. President Donald Trump who has sought closer ties with Washington since taking office last year.

“We are building a solid partnership with the United States,” Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said in a Twitter message responding to the news.

The move was first reported by Brazil’s Folha de S.Paulo newspaper and confirmed to Reuters by two sources with knowledge of the matter. The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia had no immediate comment.

Backing Brazil’s path to joining the OECD had been seen by many as a tangible benefit of the ideological similarities between Bolsonaro and Trump, who have sought to cast aside years of trade spats and political distrust between their two nations and build a tighter relationship.

OECD membership is seen as a stamp of approval that would boost investor confidence in Brazil’s government and economy.

However, Brazil’s bid to join the club had met with some resistance in Washington, and Bolsonaro was disappointed when Trump failed to deliver on his promised support and Brazil had to settle with U.S. wishes for it to join after neighbor Argentina.

The election of leftist Argentine President Alberto Fernandez appears to have bumped Brazil up the line.

Even so, joining is not likely to be immediate.

In October, Bolsonaro said that OECD accession was a drawn-out process and that it could take Brazil up to a year and a half to become a member. In Latin America, only Chile and Mexico are in the club, while Colombia is on track to join soon.

Additional reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Gerry Doyle