US backs Brazil's bid for membership in Paris-based OECD

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SAO PAULO (AP) — The U.S. government is backing Brazil's bid to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, providing a foreign policy boost for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

“The United States wants Brazil to become the next country to begin the accession process" to the OECD, said a U.S. State Department spokesperson for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

"The Brazilian government is working to align its economic policies with OECD standards while prioritizing OECD accession to reinforce economic reforms,” the spokesperson said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The State Department spokesperson declined to be named in line with department rules.

The Paris-based OECD advises developed countries on economic policy.

The U.S. announcement is welcome news for Bolsonaro, whose alignment with U.S. President Donald Trump has been the cornerstone of his foreign policy. The U.S. government had said in October that it was prioritizing Argentina’s inclusion, then governed by right-leaning President Mauricio Macri, a Trump ally. Macri lost his reelection bid.

“The American announcement of a priority for Brazil to join the OECD once more shows we are building a solid partnership with the U.S.,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo said on Twitter.

Trump recently walked back an earlier decision to impose tariffs on Brazilian steel and aluminum.

Separately, Bolsonaro's administration has decided to leave a regional group called the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, also known by its Spanish acronym CELAC.

Brazil's Foreign Ministry told The AP that it “instructed certain embassies in Latin America and the Caribbean, earlier this week, to communicate the decision to suspend the participation in different forums of CELAC, both political and technical.”

Brazil's decision is due to the presence of Cuba and Venezuela in the group, according to O Globo newspaper.

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