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Venezuela crisis, possible U.S.-Brazil trade deal on agenda as Bolsonaro meets Trump

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U.S. President Donald Trump would not commit Saturday to continue holding off on hitting Brazil with tariffs on imports of its aluminum and steel, saying “I don’t make any promises.”

Trump commented in the presence of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who Trump was hosting for dinner at his resort home in southern Florida.

In a tweet in December, Trump accused Bolsonaro’s government of hurting American farmers by manipulating its currency. He pledged to slap tariffs on Brazilian aluminum and steel, but withdrew the threat days later.

“We have a very good relationship as to tariffs … we want to always help Brazil,” said Trump, who appeared with Bolsonaro at the front door of his Mar-a-Lago estate. U.S. and Brazilian flags fluttered in the breeze on either side of the doorway.

“The friendship is probably stronger now than it’s never been,” Trump said.

Asked whether his comments meant no new tariffs on Brazil, Trump declined to commit.

“I don’t make any promises,” he said, before he led Bolsonaro to a dinner table on the club’s bustling outdoor patio. U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers, were also at the table along with several Brazilian government officials.

Trump also praised Bolsonaro’s leadership.

“He’s doing a fantastic job. Great job. Brazil loves him and the USA loves him,” Trump said.

Brazil is coping with a double-digit unemployment rate and economic growth that is half of what Bolsonaro promised as a candidate. He is also struggling to get legislation through congress.

White House officials said the crisis in Venezuela, a possible U.S.-Brazil trade deal and Chinese telecom company Huawei were discussion topics for the leaders. Forest conservation was also on the agenda.

Bolsonaro is on a three-day trip to the United States that includes a visit to the Miami headquarters of U.S. Southern Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

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