A U.S.-China Trade War Offers Brazil Tough Choices



Mac Margolis | Bloomberg

Latin Americans know by now that picking sides in a trade war is a fool’s errand. Not for nothing did World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo, a Brazilian, call this the worst moment for free trade since 1947.

So there was widespread relief when the United States and China, who represent a third of global economic output and a lifeline for struggling Latin American markets, seemed to table their conflict at the G-20 Summit of the world’s advanced economies in Buenos Aires last weekend.

Whether this message reached Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro is less clear. More than any of his regional peers, Bolsonaro shares President Donald Trump’s flair for bilious populism, nationalistic rants, a soft spot for military Caesarism, and impatience for multilateral bodies such as the WTO.

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