A New Level in Brazil-US Relations

Opinion article written by Ambassador Liliana Ayalde for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo and published on June 16, 2015.

After a historic Summit of the Americas in Panama in April, there is a palpable sense of optimism in the West. For the first time since 1959, the presidents of the United States and Cuba had a meaningful dialogue and for the first time the summit included the formal participation of all 35 countries in the hemisphere.

At the event, the leaders found common ground for a shared future of opportunities and challenges. That future has never been as promising as now in relations between Brazil and the USA. We are natural partners. The US benefits from a stronger relationship with Brazil, and Brazil benefits from a stronger relationship with us.

So it is that we are excited about the visit by President Dilma Rousseff to the United States on June 30. This visit will raise our relationship to a new level, offering benefits far beyond our countries.

Our Presidents shall draw up a common agenda for the future, which will include cooperation on climate change; deeper commercial engagement; collaboration in science, technology and innovation; defense and security agreements, and technical and educational exchanges. The agenda is organized around three pillars: the interchange of people, prosperity and partnerships.

The interchange of people: the growing relationship between Brazil and the United States is defined as much by interactions between our peoples as by official activities. Educational exchanges, for example, create, expand and intensify the ties between Brazilians and Americans.

The USA is proud to have welcomed 33,000 Brazilians through the Science Without Borders program. To expand the exchanges in both directions, President Obama’s ‘100,000 Strong in the Americas’ initiative encourages Americans to learn Portuguese and study in Brazil. During President Rousseff’s visit, I hope we can come to new agreements that strengthen even further our relationship in education.

Prosperity: trade is one of the main factors that promote prosperity. The last four years were marked by the highest levels of bilateral trade in history, surpassing US$ 100 billion annually. In 2014, the USA was the largest market for Brazil’s exports of manufactured goods, creating thousands of skilled and much better paid jobs in Brazil.

The USA is also the largest source of foreign direct investment in Brazil, with many of our companies operating here for over a century. Brazilian companies are also expanding investments and partnerships in the USA, making our economic relationship mutually beneficial, increasing economic growth, jobs and opportunities.

But we want to go further. Working together more closely, facilitating trade, cooperating in trade regulations, simplifying the conduct of business, both here and in the USA, we can achieve and grow more.

Between Thursday (June 18) and Friday (June 19), the United States-Brazil CEO Forum will meet in Brasilia. American and Brazilian CEOs will draw up recommendations to be presented to Presidents Obama and Rousseff before the meeting in Washington. Our governments are already working with the companies taking part in the forum to propose initiatives in areas such as energy, innovation and infrastructure.

Partnerships: Brazil and the United States have much in common and no insurmountable differences. The range of issues that we can address together is diverse and sophisticated: climate change; UN peacekeeping operations; food security; global pandemics; regional issues, such as Cuba and Venezuela; Iran, Syria and North Korea; human rights; disarmament and non-proliferation; multilateral forums, such as the United Nations; defense and security; and the combat and dismantling of terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State.

I believe that the closer we work with Brazil, the broader and deeper our agenda is, the more likely differences will be. But I am confident that they will be healthy differences between strategic partners.

President Obama’s invitation to President Rousseff reaffirms Brazil’s importance to us as a people, economy, strategic partner and global leader. What Brazil does and says is important and has a global impact. This visit is an opportunity to renew and elevate this vital and fruitful relationship.

LILIANA AYALDE is the US Ambassador to Brazil.