The 10th meeting of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum was held today in Washington, D.C., with CEO members providing joint recommendations to both governments on how to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil commercial relationship and grow bilateral trade and investment.
The U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum is currently comprised of 20 CEOs of companies based in the United States and Brazil and is co-chaired on the government side by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, Brazilian Minister of Economy Paulo Guedes, and Brazilian Chief of Staff to the President, Minister Onyx Lorenzoni. Mr. Dow Wilson, CEO of Varian Medical Systems, is the U.S. private sector co-chair and Mr. Marco Stefanini, CEO and founder of Stefanini IT Solutions, is the Brazilian private sector co-chair. Other government leaders, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, also participated in discussions during the Forum. Minister Onyx Lorenzoni was represented by Deputy Minister José Vicente Santini.
During the plenary meeting, CEO forum members presented their joint recommendations and new ideas for furthering the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship. The CEOs’ joint recommendations included proposals to increase bilateral trade, infrastructure cooperation, collaboration in the technology sector, and improvements in health, education, and workforce development. They recommended several measures to advance discussions toward the long-term goal of a free trade agreement and Brazil’s entry into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The CEOs also expressed support for tax reform efforts in both countries and recommended continuing with efforts to negotiate a mutual Double Taxation Agreement (DTA).
Minister Guedes emphasized that asymmetries between U.S and Brazil’s tax systems are being progressively reduced, increasing the possibility of convergence in negotiation of a future DTA agreement. Deputy Minister Santini underscored Brazil’s high interest in becoming an OECD Member and stressed the country’s cooperation and broad convergence with the Organization’s standards. Secretary Ross reiterated support for Brazil’s accession to the OECD and noted the work of the U.S.-Brazil Commercial Dialogue to prevent, reduce, and eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade, facilitate bilateral investment, and promote commercial opportunities. The Secretary also highlighted the work of the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation. Minister Guedes praised the technical work that has reestablished ATEC ties and set a foundation for a higher-level meeting in 2020 and negotiating a free trade agreement in the future.
The private sector group underscored the need to adopt measures that promote transparency and eliminate corruption. They affirmed their commitment to use the private sector as an ally to combat corruption. Secretary Ross also emphasized the need to eradicate corruption and highlighted the collaborative anti-corruption efforts the Commerce Department is currently engaged in through public-private partnership programs.
The CEOs proposed development of a framework for joint space research programs and celebrated recent achievements in space cooperation. For example, in November 2019, the Brazilian Congress ratified the U.S.-Brazil Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA). Upon entry into force, the Agreement will establish the technical safeguards to support space launches from Brazil of U.S. technology while ensuring the proper handling of sensitive U.S. technology, consistent with U.S. nonproliferation policy, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and U.S. export control laws and regulations. This agreement advances bilateral security cooperation and paves the way for future private sector collaboration in the aerospace industry. Deputy Minister Santini noted TSA’s importance as a fundamental step for developing the Brazilian Space Program by enabling technological cooperation and joint high-level research. Secretary Ross highlighted the U.S. commitment to prioritize further growth of bilateral trade and investment in the aerospace industry.
Regarding infrastructure cooperation, the CEOs recommended the establishment of a Transparent Projects Initiative to attract private sector investment and financing of infrastructure projects. They also suggested establishing a high-level strategic dialogue on energy to foster further bilateral cooperation. Secretary Ross highlighted the work of the Americas Crescem initiative, which has been expanded to include commercial engagement in infrastructure in addition to energy, and the U.S.-Brazil Energy Forum, which held its first private sector meeting in October 2019. Minister Guedes emphasized the recent legislative changes in Brazil, such as the approval of the Economic Freedom and the Infrastructure Debenture laws, as well as the launching of the “New Gas Market” program, in July 2019. These measures will improve business environment and increase competition in the infrastructure sector. Deputy Minister Santini mentioned that Brazil is undertaking the largest concession program in the world with the Brazilian Investment Partnerships Program – PPI and welcomed U.S. investments in the country.
The private sector also recommended advancing technological cooperation through policies that accelerate digital transformation. They supported creation of a framework for more innovative collaboration in the healthcare industry and recommended establishing educational partnerships and collaborative workforce development initiatives.
Members of the Forum celebrated the recent signing of a joint statement towards cooperation in the expansion of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry international trusted traveler program to eligible Brazilian citizens. This will facilitate easier and more efficient travel for Brazilians visiting the United States. The United States and Brazil have been negotiating the terms of a Global Entry joint statement for many years, and during the March 2019 meeting between Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro, the two leaders announced their intent to complete the process. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection will begin an experimental phase of the program in the coming weeks as a basis for broader enrollment in 2020. Deputy Minister Santini celebrated the progress made throughout this year for Global Entry’s implementation and the recent exemption of tourist and business visa requirements for U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil. He highlighted that these measures reflect both Presidents’ engagement in deepening the integration between the two communities.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) intend to announce a new technology-neutral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), allowing the United States to join Brazil’s uniform PPH program which will launch on December 1, 2019. The PPH allows for expedited patent examination in both Brazil and the United States.
Both governments remain committed to prioritizing the private sector’s recommendations to foster mutually beneficial economic growth. They also agree to continue the use of relevant bilateral tools, such as the U.S.-Brazil Commercial Dialogue, the U.S.-Brazil Defense Dialogue, and the U.S.-Brazil Energy Forum, to keep an open line of communication with the private sector and its government counterparts.
The two governments will engage on a regular basis and across agencies to ensure that all recommendations are fully considered in policy decisions.