By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Despite protests from opposition lawmakers, the Brazilian Senate approved on Tuesday a cooperation agreement between the United States and Brazil for ‘peaceful use of outer space’. For some senators, however, Brazil should avoid signing any agreement with the US after the North American country imposed import taxes on steel and aluminum.
“I know the importance of this issue, but I do not believe that analyzing measures at this moment of agreements and commitments with the United States, without taking into account the concept of reciprocity, is a minor thing, on the contrary,” said Senator Lidice da Mata during the session.
“This Congress needs to discuss the rules of relations between countries in the case of trade agreements. And, just as Brazilian diplomacy defends the law of reciprocity at other times, we also have to be very clear about the national interest and the possibility of reacting to those issues,” da Mata added.
At the beginning of March, US President Donald Trump signed a decree that imposes import tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the U.S. The measure is expected to affect the Brazilian steel industry since the the US is one of the largest markets for Brazilian steel and steel raw materials.
The agreement, which has been under discussion by the Brazilian government since 2011, will allow NASA to work with Brazilian space agencies to launch climate monitoring satellites. The agreement however has not yet been signed by the United States’ Congress.
According to the Space Enterprise Council (SEC), an US organization which represents businesses with a commercial interest in space, says Brazil has a prime launch site in the Northeastern region of the country, at Alcântara, which is only two degrees south of the equator.
For SEC, the area is strategically better than Cape Canaveral and would be ‘a major efficiency gain for US launch companies’.
“If US launches were permitted in Brazil, it would also help U.S. companies compete for contracts in the Brazilian domestic space market. The Brazilian Air Force plans to spend approximately US$2.7 billion over the next ten years on its strategic space systems,” said David Logsdon, senior director of the CompTIA Space Enterprise Council, in an op-ed article on the SEC website.