President Donald Trump will designate Brazil as a “major non-NATO ally,” in recognition of the South American state’s deepening defense cooperation with the US, says Trump’s notification to the Congress.
Trump announced the decision in a White House press release on Wednesday. As a non-NATO ally, Brazil would become a preferred buyer of US military equipment, would participate in Pentagon military auctions, and would participate in military exercises and training operations with US forces.
Seventeen other countries, including Israel, Japan, South Korea and Australia hold equivalent status.
Trump also announced back in March that he was “very strongly” considering NATO membership for Brazil, during a visit from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the White House.
NATO leadership is a little cooler towards the idea of Brazilian integration. Secretary-General of the alliance Jens Stoltenberg said last week that Brazil may not join the military pact, but could become “a very close partner” of the group.
NATO is currently made up of 29 full-fledged member states, and a handful of so-called “aspiring members,” including Ukraine and Georgia. Twenty-one more countries are considered partner states, with Colombia the most recent South American addition.
Bolsonaro rose to power last October as an unabashed admirer of President Trump, and his trip to Washington this year was the right-wing leader’s first trip abroad for a bilateral meeting. Since taking office, Bolsonaro has remained a supporter of American foreign policy, following Washington’s lead in recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s claim to the country’s presidency, and coordinating a politically-loaded humanitarian shipment to Venezuela with the US.