New initiatives in regional cyberdefense began as a reaction to leaked reports alleging that Brazil, Argentina and other Latin American countries were subjected to spying by U.S. and other intelligence agencies.
Latin American government services routinely spy on each other but revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency and other U.S. agencies have been monitoring government and diplomatic business in the area angered Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other regional leaders.
Argentine Defense Minister Agustin Rossi and Brazilian counterpart Celso Amorim in a joint statement indicated cyberdefense would take the center stage in a bilateral agenda of defense and security collaboration.
The two countries are also tied together in regional pacts that cover or overlap frameworks for defense and security collaboration, including the Union of South American States and to some extent the Mercosur trade bloc.
With security leaks and intelligence matters still dominating Latin American media headlines, Rossi and Amorim announced the new initiative as they attended the formal opening in Buenos Aires of the Argentine Defense Ministry's new headquarters building.
Brazilian edge in defense and security technologies will give Brazil opportunities for new business expected to grow out of closer collaboration between the two countries. There were indications that other regional neighbors would be invited to join in cyberdefense planning and implementation.
The United States, in particular, has faced frequent media criticism over the espionage controversy but analysts said there is no hint the spat has affected ongoing defense and security collaboration between Brazilian, Canadian and U.S. corporations.
"We have decided that before the year ends we will hold a meeting in Brasilia to intensify cyberdefense complementary works," Rossi said.
He indicated the current controversy on cross-border espionage was not new and has "always existed." However, he added, there is now need for coordinated work "to counteract vulnerable situations."
Amorim said Argentina and Brazil would explore each other's capacity to deal with the challenge of external espionage and, where necessary, conduct research and development of new countermeasures and devices.
An Argentine security team will visit Brazil to explore the possibilities of collaboration in develop new cyberdefense software and joint defense industrial research, development and production.
Brazil is keen to increase its role in a joint regional project for a training aircraft to be shared by the military organizations in the member countries of the Union of South American States.
Brazil is developing a heavy duty freight aircraft it hopes to sell to neighboring countries and its union partners.
Argentine officials say they are keen to share advanced technologies being developed by Brazilian armament firms in particular Embraer S.A.
Analysts said Brazilian government and private sector emphasis on developing new cyberdefense programs could open new opportunities for commercial development. Brazilian defense firms are keen to capture a slice of defense and security market share currently under the sway of Canadian, European and U.S. companies.
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