The Brazil-US Strategic Relationship: Past, Present and Future
U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman
Fundação Getúlio Vargas, São Paulo
August 20, 2020
Good afternoon to all. What a distinct pleasure for me to be with you all today, It is truly an honor to be speaking with the international relations students of Fundação Getulio Vargas – such an important institution which has done so much to promote Brazil’s international.
I would like to thank Professor Oliver Stuenkel for his kind words of introduction. And also to Livia Avelhan, for all her support in making this event happen.
I value FGV’s long-standing partnership with the United States and our academic institutions, and I hope, while I am ambassador, an ever-deepening relationship with the U.S. diplomatic mission in Brazil.
I have the privilege today to speak with you all about a topic to which I am 100% dedicated—the continued development of the U.S.- Brazil partnership for the benefit of both countries and its citizens.
As you know, I first arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1974 as an 11-year–old kid with my family. So arriving in Brazil with a name like “Todd”, quickly became “Toddy”, which is just fine, and ever since I’ve heard it from my friends. I attended Escola Maria Immaculada, the “Chapel School” in Santo Amaro, graduating in 1980. I will always treasure my years growing up in Brazil.
After graduating, I came back to work three times. The first and the second time I came for a year each.
Before I became a diplomat, the most importantly, my first son Joshua was born here in Sao Paulo at ProMatre off of Av. Paulista. I even have a Brazilian in my family!
Most recently I served as DCM at the Embassy in Brasilia (2011-14). And it truly is an honor to serve now as the U.S. Ambassador. For me, Brazil is a nation I admire, and Brazilians are a people I am proud to call friends.
So much of what the United States – Brazil relationship is today has been shaped by our shared past. And what we do today, together as friends, will shape our futures. I want to share over the next several minutes a few of my thoughts on our past, our present, and our future together as the two largest and great democracies of the Americas.
I wish to share my own views on why I believe our relationship as nations is strategically important for both our countries—for our peoples, for our economies, and for our governments—-as well as share a vision of where perhaps we can go together.
First, a bit on our past.
In 1822, the United States was the first country to recognize Brazil’s independence. The U.S. was also the first country to establish a diplomatic presence in Brazil, opening a Consulate in Recife in 1815. Dom Pedro II in 1876 was just the second Head of State to ever visit the United States, the year of our Centennial celebration of independence.
In the Second World War, Brazil was an important ally of the U.S. in support of the Allied effort to defeat tyranny in Europe. The air base in Natal was a strategic ferrying point for U.S. troops and equipment heading to Europe. President Getulio Vargas and President Franklin Roosevelt met in Natal on January 28 – 29, 1943, to discuss U.S.-Brazil cooperation in WWII; and Brazil became the only South American country to contribute troops to the Allied war effort. U.S. and Brazilian troops fought together in the Italian Campaign. And by their courage and sacrifice, the Brazilian Military showed that “Sim, a cobra vai fumar.”
After the war, economic integration expanded rapidly, resulting in deep economic ties. AmCham Brasil is the largest American Chamber in the world, and last year celebrated its 100th anniversary. Four hundred of the Fortune 500, the largest U.S. companies, have significant operations in Brazil, many of them established 100 years ago.
The U.S. collaborated closely with Brazilians in establishing the Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica and Embrapa, collaboration which continues to this day.
In the 1960’s, the Alliance for Progress of President John Kennedy brought new features to our bilateral relationship, with the establishment of USAID in Brazil, which has since contributed almost one billion dollars in assistance in Brazil, and the Peace Corps which brought over 4,200 U.S. volunteers to work in communities all throughout the country.
For two hundred years, our peoples have been united by our love of freedom as well as our struggle to address the wrongs of history—whether slavery, racial prejudice, societal inequities—and our embrace of faith, family, and country.
And like with any good friends, we at times disagree—like over who actually invented the first airplane, or over approaches to resolving international conflicts or promoting domestic industries. But importantly, we have stood together over time, through many different seasons, and we continue to stand together now.
This strong history together and our shared values, form a rock-solid foundation for the cooperation that we have today and what we will work to intensify.
I want to take a moment to talk about where the U.S.-Brazil partnership is at this moment, then share a vision for the future of our partnership.
Our longstanding relationships in the health sector provide the foundation for our joint efforts in combating COVID-19 and in learning from each other on strengthening our health systems.
The United States and Brazil have a long history of collaboration on health and on biomedical research. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has had a presence in Brazil since 2000 and worked directly with the Ministry of Health on HIV/AIDS, malaria, immunizations, and Zika. Working with the Ministry of Health, the CDC helped set up programs for testing and accessing services during the current coronavirus pandemic.
When COVID-19 hit, all the connections were in place for a joint response. Building on those linkages, the CDC is providing more than 15 million reais in funding to strengthen surveillance and data analysis systems in Brazil in its response to infectious disease threats.
Every year, the U.S. National Institutes of Health funds more than 800 million reais in cutting-edge research with Brazilian government and academic organizations, on everything from infectious diseases to diabetes and cancer. This year, the National Institutes of Health is using its many established networks for clinical trials to expedite testing of COVID-19 vaccines. The United States is investing more money in the search for a vaccine than any country in the world.
The U.S. government and U.S. private companies in Brazil have provided over 402 million reais in assistance to help communities, hospitals, and families respond to the health emergency. USAID is financing essential health care services in the Amazon, including to indigenous communities, as well as to Venezuelan refugees.
The United States have already donated and delivered 400 ventilators with 600 more on the way, as President Trump committed to President Bolsonaro. U.S. firm UnitedHealth Group, owner of Brazilian firm Amil Medical Assistance, the largest health insurance provider in Brazil donated over R$ 37 million in support of Fiocruz, field hospitals, and the national health service (SUS).
Just in Sao Paulo state, Accenture, Amazon, BP Bunge, Colgate, PWC, and others are contributing to the state government’s response to COVID-19 through participation in the private sector taskforce Company Solidarity Group which has raised over R$1 billion. U.S. pharmaceutical companies are testing vaccines for COVID-19 in Brazil while continuing their substantial production of medicines here in the country.
Our health cooperation will remain strong until we get through this pandemic together.
Yet even in the midst of the pandemic, we are working to strengthen our relationship in other areas.
The United States continues to deepen our scientific research and development cooperation with Brazil’s top academic institutions and companies, many right here in Sao Paulo.
In March of this year, Brazil hosted the fifth meeting of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Commission on Science and Technology Cooperation. It brought together representatives from more than 30 Brazilian and U.S. agencies to discuss topics ranging from Earth observation and science, technology, and engineering fields to advanced manufacturing and particle physics research.
In December last year, the U.S.-Brazil Technology Safeguards Agreement entered into force. The agreement allows for the use of U.S. launch technology from the Alcantara Space Launch Center and opens the door for commercial collaboration in the fast-growing space economy.
In April and May, the U.S. Embassy hosted a webinar with the President of the Brazil Space Agency with over 364 participants. There are also new partnerships with NASA which are being explored.
Just this month Brazil became the first country to conduct Space Engagement Talks with the United States Space Force on ways to deepen our defense space cooperation. The U.S.-Brazil space partnership helps ensure responsible and safe access and use of space for all of us.
The first U.S.-Brazil Defense Industry Dialogue was held in 2016 and brings together representatives from U.S. and Brazilian companies to identify opportunities for commercial partnership and areas for joint collaboration on policies and regulations. In July this year, the dialogue launched work on developing a code of ethics for our defense industries, an important and visionary step for our private sectors to take.
We have continued a long history of military and strategic cooperation. We have signed nine strategic defense agreements in the last five years alone. These ties testify to the importance the United States places on a close relationship with Brazil – a relationship based on a foundation of democracy, a common history of fighting for freedom, and the conviction to defend the right to democracy in the future.
The United States sees Brazil as a natural ally and security partner. In recognition of this, President Trump last year designated Brazil a Major Non-NATO Ally, one of only 16 countries globally with that designation. This designation brings privileges, including priority access to military equipment, new joint research opportunities, and a platform on which to build future defense cooperation.
The Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Agreement signed in March of this year, if ratified by Brazil’s Congress, will enable collaborative efforts in basic, exploratory, and advanced technologies to a level enjoyed only by NATO allies and the closest strategic security partners of the United States.
Beyond the military’s defense of our borders and securing national sovereignty, the peace of our streets and our families is also critically important.
Public security has therefore been an area of constant collaboration. For this reason, the U.S.-Brazil Permanent Forum on Security, which was launched in May 2018 and last met this afternoon, addresses arms and narcotics trafficking and other cross cutting security issues that can and do impact the lives of each of us every day.
It is why we work together to train law enforcement personnel.
While we face these security threats, we do not face them alone. Because criminals do not respect borders, we seek solutions that bring together partners from across the region.
In July 2019, the United States and Brazil joined Argentina and Paraguay to re-launch the Regional Security Mechanism to address transnational crime and illicit finance. These combined joint efforts – leveraging information and expertise from all partner nations – have resulted in gun smuggling routes closed, multi-ton seizures of illicit drugs, transnational child pornography networks dismantled, and exotic animal smuggling rings broken.
In the economic area, the United States is Brazil’s largest market for value-added, manufactured products and has been for many, many years. Exports of industrialized products produce more jobs and have a greater economic multiplier effect than do the export of commodities with little or no added value.
The export of value-added products promotes technology transfer, the professional growth of your workforce, and the development of your economy. Our bilateral trade is characterized by its diversity of products, relationships developed over decades, and a considerable amount of intra-company trade which highlights the integration of our productive sectors. This is evidence of how the United States and Brazil share a mature trading relationship.
According to the Central Bank of Brazil, the United States is Brazil’s largest source of foreign direct investment stocks by far. Based on the most recent statistics available, U.S. FDI stocks totaled US$ 118 billion in 2018, accounting for 24% of all FDI stocks in Brazil. This is followed by Spain, with $57 billion.
American energy companies are deploying cutting edge technology alongside Brazilian partners to promote Brazil’s transition into one of the largest oil producers and exporters in the world. American investments in renewable and nuclear energy are providing clean sources of electricity to meet Brazil’s growing power needs.
These issues are at the core of the U.S.-Brazil Energy Forum established in 2019. And this investment is going in both directions, as Brazilian companies expand their presence in the U.S. market, purchasing U.S. companies or establishing their own, in agriculture, food processing, and the financial sectors.
We see Brazilian investment banks investing in U.S. companies and U.S. investment banks investing in some of Brazil’s most successful unicorns, like Gympass, Wildlife Studio, Quinto Andar and Loggi. This is evidence of how the United States and Brazil share a mature investment relationship.
Freedom underpins every bit of this great work: the freedom to think and communicate what each of us wants – the freedom to innovate and protect our own property, our inventions; the freedom to compete.
Future economic success for Brazil and the United States will depend on the ability of our innovators to capitalize upon their ideas. To try, to fail, and to be able to try again.
This is why protection of intellectual property is paramount for developed economies, and why IPR theft needs to be combatted. The USPTO initiated a pilot with INPI’s for the Patent Prosecution Highway program in December 2019. This 5-year program will facilitate innovators and businesses across all industries to benefit from more timely patent determinations in both countries.
The United States and Brazil together feed the world. Our long-standing partnership in agriculture has solidified gains for Brazilian and American farmers via programs like LABEX-USA, where EMBRAPA sends senior agricultural scientists to the United States for research in collaboration with counterparts at host laboratories.
The agricultural companies — ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Mosaic, John Deere, Caterpillar, Pioneer — are well-integrated in Brazil, and many Brazilian companies are producing food in the U.S. As the two great agricultural superpowers, Brazil and the United States are on the front line together advocating for the use of sound science in agricultural production and import policies.
This not only benefits producers in our two nations but advances food security globally. The world is projected to add more than two billion inhabitants in the next 30 years. Someone has to feed them, and I’m betting on the U.S. and Brazil.
The U.S. and Brazil are currently pursuing commercial agreements and understandings which would greatly advance our commercial partnership, reduce barriers to trade, and facilitate investment. Our mutual ambition is high and our two negotiating teams are hard at work.
And because of Brazil’s strong commitment to transparency and economic reform, the United States last year publicly announced our strong support for Brazil’s accession to the OECD. By achieving the important milestones necessary for full membership, Brazil will become a more competitive economy and increase its ability to attract domestic and foreign investment.
Our two countries are working to address environmental challenges. Brazil and the United States share similar environmental challenges and a productive history working together. We aim to protect and preserve the environment while promoting the growth of our economies.
In January 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Brazilian Environment Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen and coordinate efforts to effectively protect our nations’ environments. The Partnership Platform for the Amazon, a strategic initiative by USAID, is a collective action platform. It is led by the private sector that identifies and develops innovative solutions for sustainable development and conservation of the Brazilian Amazon’s biodiversity, forests and natural resources.
Since 2015, U.S. Forest Service technical experts and USAID have worked closely with Brazilian federal and local partners to build fire prevention and management capacity, including training more than 500 indigenous leaders and community members.
In 2020, USAID will expand this joint work to support Brazil’s efforts to prevent and control fires in the Amazon.
Today, as two of the world’s largest democracies, Brazil and the United States share an understanding of the power of people who live in freedom. We must fight to maintain and advance our freedoms, and we must fight to promote justice in our own countries and around the world. In Brazil, the U.S. has an important partner.
The Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS declares “the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.” While we continue to work to improve the lives of our own citizens, Brazil and the United States are leaders in promoting democracy in the region.
Brazil has been a vital leader in efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela and to see a democratic transition which puts an end to the illegitimate and inhumane Maduro regime. According to the UN, over four million have fled Venezuela and between 4,000 and 5,000 Venezuelans depart every day. Brazil has welcomed hundreds of thousands of them.
The United States strongly supports Brazil’s leadership and generosity in welcoming Venezuelan refugees. The United States has provided over $50 million dollars to help care for these Venezuelan refugees here in Brazil.
Globally, this year Brazil became a founding member of the Alliance for Religious Freedom, working with the United States and other countries to elevate and amplify efforts to combat discrimination and persecution based on religion or belief.
It is unconscionable that over a million Uighers are being held in concentration camps in China, or that pastors in Iran like Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, remain imprisoned because of their faith. Brazil and United States are jointly sponsoring the Geneva Consensus Declaration to secure meaningful health and development gains for women and defend the family.
Our two governments now, as in times past, are active in setting goals and agendas, establishing mechanisms to foster cooperation and collaboration, and imagining new partnerships. Yet, it is our people — Brazilians and Americans — who make the relationship what it is today and define what it will become.
More than 2.1 million Brazilians visited the United States in 2019. Brazil is also one of the top 10 countries for sending students to the United States, the great majority of whom return to Brazil with the knowledge and experiences gained. Clearly, both Brazil’s and the United States’ temporary travel restrictions due to COVID-19 this year impact individual lives that cannot be summed in statistics.
I recognize that many students from Brazil who want to travel to the United States to study at a university are unable to because of COVID-19. Many universities in the United States have announced they will only hold online classes, meaning many will be able to study from anywhere in the world.
We are making resources available through the over 40 EducationUSA advising centers in Brazil to help students connect with universities. In 2019 our network hosted 497 visits from U.S. universities and reached over 300,000 students in person and more than a million through virtual outreach.
Our partnership with 35 Binational Centers around the country engaged over 5.5 million Brazilians in 2019. The centers offer cultural programs; study in the United States advising; and English learning opportunities.
Since the start of the pandemic, over 30 U.S. experts have supported efforts to transition to online and hybrid English teaching. They have reached over 420,000 teacher trainers and teachers in every state in Brazil.
We support Brazilian higher education through collaboration. As a result of a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Fulbright Commission, more than 1,980 U.S. and Brazilian citizens have traveled between our two countries on Fulbright-sponsored or operated exchanges.
Additionally, through this partnership, we support the Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Modernization Program, an eight-year program that aims to modernize the teaching of engineering at eight of the best Brazilian universities.
And I want to highlight that the educational partnership between the United States and Brazil – including with FGV – is also part of our shared history. FGV’s School of Business Administration in Sao Paulo was founded in 1954 in collaboration with Michigan State University.
You all very likely know this, the school’s building is named after President John F. Kennedy, whose administration provided financial support during the Alliance for Progress. Entertainment, culture, sports, music, humanitarian organizations, religious communities, the Rotary and Lions clubs all ensure that the U.S. – Brazil relationship thrives. It is deep, longstanding, and founded on the values of the Americas—democracy, freedom, liberty—truths which we indeed hold to be self-evident.
These are investments in people. These are investments in the future. And these will continue.
And what will be the future of the U.S.-Brazil strategic partnership?
I believe the future begins right here with us in this gathering, because we as individuals get to choose where we want to take this partnership and where we wish to engage. Most of the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil occurs outside of official government channels. It happens between people, organizations, companies in Brazil and the United States who find benefit and pleasure in the interaction.
So, at this juncture as U.S. Ambassador, I can envision ten thematic partnerships that are moving forward. Each is in line with the Strategic Framework for the Western Hemisphere that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien presented last weekend.
I believe as governments, we have the opportunity to create the environment in which these interactions can increase, while we also attend to the responsibilities which governments uniquely maintain.
I can envision ten thematic partnerships that are moving forward:
- A partnership for prosperity. I believe we can double our bilateral trade within five years. We are working toward that goal now as we move toward trade agreements and as the world seeks to diversify supply chains in a post-pandemic world. We are now making rapid advances in energy, technology, and agriculture. We can do this.
- An educational partnership. We have so many active educational initiatives, yet I would like to see us double the number of students studying in each others’ countries in the next five years. All students will benefit.
- A deeper defense partnership. Our militaries share a proud history. Stronger linkages, built piece by piece to mutual benefit, will further secure our countries from those who do not share our values.
- A closer security partnership. Together we can break the strongholds of transnational criminal groups operating in our countries. They destroy communities and promote drug addiction, traffic in persons, ravage the environment with illegal mining and deforestation, and plunder wildlife. Working together we can help secure the blessings of liberty for our citizens who are held captive by these thugs.
- A partnership in space. With the ratification of the TSA, and a shared conviction on the importance of the responsible use of space, we can now explore together an expanded partnership which is out of this world.
- A health partnership. Post-pandemic: We will continue to foster advances in health, revolutionizing the way we prevent and care for illnesses, advance our joint ability to counter diseases, and drive policy that will contribute to better health for Americans, Brazilians, and people around the world.
- An environmental partnership. Together we can develop policies and programs that protect the environment — from the Amazon to the urban slums — while also creating incentives for the private sector to participate and provide for sustainable economic growth for all our citizens.
- A partnership in innovation and creativity. One where our businesses, academics, and professionals work together in science, in art and in business, from agriculture to space exploration, opening new opportunities and creating new paths to prosperity.
- A global partnership. A partnership where we lift the well-being not only of our citizens but also those of countries around the world by leading reforms at international institutions, advocating for science and data-based public policies, promoting democratic principles and resisting tyranny in all its forms. And finally…
- An enduring alliance. When the U.S. and Brazil lead together to advance around the world our shared commitments to fundamental, God-given liberties, including the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of thought, I believe the world will be a better place. And I believe we both can do this better by doing this together.
As we build out these partnerships there will certainly be challenges along the way. That’s fine. That doesn’t worry me. With mutual respect and understanding, the United States and Brazil can work through any such differences, as we keep our eyes fixed on the hope and possibilities which are before us.
I am proud of the relationship that we have built together over the last two centuries, but we are not going to settle down. I personally believe that the U.S.-Brazil relationship has the potential to be among the most significant alliances in the century to come — and many are counting on us to do so — and I will do all I can in the time I serve as U.S. Ambassador. We have 1,500 employees, two thirds of them Brazilian, working with me at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Brazil. Together, we will make these plans a reality!
Thank you very much for listening to me today. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!
I look forward to answering now a few of your questions.