SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil has asked its diplomats to help increase exports of weapons made in the South American country as it suffers through one of the country's worst economic crises in decades.
The nation is among the world's largest light arms dealers.
Brazil's foreign ministry sent a letter to its embassies late last year instructing them to promote events and seminars with an eye to increasing the export of products manufactured by the defense ministry.
The Rio de Janeiro think-tank Instituto Igarape and Sao Paulo violence prevention group Sou da Paz recently obtained a copy of the eight-page letter through Brazil's Information Access Law.
The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper published excerpts from the letter Sunday, ahead of the April 4-7 LAAD defense and security fair in Rio de Janeiro.
The Foreign Ministry's letter urges diplomats to help increase sales to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
"We have nothing against encouraging the defense industry to increase its exports," Bruno Langeani, one of the directors of Sou da Paz, said by telephone. "But we are concerned with Brazil's inadequate control of its arms sales to other countries."
He said the government "must guarantee that the final buyer is not a country at war and can guarantee the safekeeping of the weapons."
In 2016, Brazil exported $343 million worth of light arms such as revolvers, pistols, machine guns and rifles Langeani said.
"We must develop adequate instruments for our industry to prosper and especially for it to compete with equal conditions on the international market," Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said Tuesday at the opening of the defense fair.
Carlos Afonso Gamboa, vice president of the Brazilian Association for Defense and Security industries said Latin America, the Middle East and South East Asia are Brazil's target markets for weapons sales.
Associated Press journalist Renata Brito contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.