Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is fighting with France over fires in the Amazon, said on Friday that he would stop using Bic pens, a "French" brand.
Until now, he signed the official documents with these cheap pens, which he often waved in front of the cameras as a symbol of the modesty of his presidential lifestyle, unlike that of his predecessors.
" Pen (from the Brazilian brand) Compactor, instead of Bic, will do the trick, "he told reporters in Brasilia. The day before, he had declared on Facebook "now it will be Compactor, because Bic is French".
Bic employs a thousand people in Brazil
A spokesman for the presidency, to which AFP asked whether the presidential statements were to be taken seriously or whether it was a joke, said he did not wish to "comment on this affair".
Some 95% of pens sold in Brazil by Bic are manufactured in Manaus, Amazonas state, one of the nine states to house the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, said a press officer of the firm contacted by AFP by mail. The group employs a thousand people in its factories in Manaus and Rio de Janeiro.
Bic declined to comment on Jair Bolsonaro's statements, but said she was "flattered" to be recognized as "a democratic brand".
The serious fires in the Amazon have given rise since last week to very tense exchanges between Brazil and France.
For the third consecutive day on Friday, Jair Bolsonaro asked that French President Emmanuel Macron retract after he declared open the question of sovereignty over the Amazon, 60% of which are in Brazilian territory.