Interview given by Ambassador Liliana Ayalde to Sergio Leo, from Valor Econômico newspaper, published on 06/19/2015.
Liliana: Brazil and the United States will form a “partnership at the highest level”
A few weeks before Dilma Rousseff’s official visit to the United States, work at the US Embassy in Brasília has been stepped up. While negotiations with Washington are being done directly on issues that will lead to important announcements during the visit, such as the environment, the US Ambassador to Brazil, Liliana Ayalde, satisfied with the resumption of contact between the two governments, celebrates the end of the “difficult period” of separation caused by the revelation of a US spying program that monitored the Brazilian government, and she reveals the American’s willingness to support Brazil in its search for investors for the ambitious infrastructure plan announced by President Rousseff.
Valor: Brazil and the USA have previously held presidential meetings that have produced agreements and initiatives that did not achieve the results expected of them. What’s different this time?
Liliana Ayalde: The meeting – not only the meeting itself, but all the preparation, opens new possibilities for the future. We’re doing a lot of work. Having the visit has allowed the government to set out an agenda to fulfill.
Valor: What themes that had been buried in red tape have come to the fore?
Liliana: Themes such as energy… We have had meetings in the past two years about this energy issue, but now the talks are at the level of Secretary [in the USA] and Minister [in Brazil]…
Valor: What developments can we expect in the energy sector?
Liliana: We will have developments – a lot of challenges in common, similar interests, in renewable energy, energy efficiency, which involve smart grids, and the civil use of nuclear energy. We are resuming discussions that had become dormant.
Valor: Are you referring to US investment deals in Brazil?
Liliana: Yes, investment, the exchange of technology, the exchange of concrete experiences. Talking, for example, about the problems in California, which are also happening in São Paulo [with the drought]. At this time, the USA is doing economically very well, compared with some years. And Brazil faces challenges. We need investment and we want to support this process. There is an opportunity.
Valor: Investments in energy?
Liliana: It may be in power, but also in the commercial area, more broadly speaking. The visit by the president to Washington will include other agendas. I don’t have the details, but I know she is going to New York, and will have presentations to investors and also with US companies about infrastructure. She is also going to California, where innovation and technology, whether in energy or in other areas, will be an important subject. We are looking at how to help and giving feedback, saying what features are important to make the package of concessions to American companies more attractive, because in the past they did not get involved very much.
Valor: How can the US government help in attracting investments?
Liliana: For example, in the case of defense: we are working with the Minister [of Defense] Jaques Wagner, who will go to the USA a few days before. He has a meeting scheduled with Secretary [of Defense Ashton] Carter, on Monday, the 29th. He wants to take a group of businesspeople from the defense industry. We are working with him to get together with representatives of the US defense industry.
Valor: The US already has major companies, such as Boeing and Lockheed, associated with Brazilian companies, right?
Liliana: Exactly, there is a lot of interest from our companies there. I am visited a lot by CEOs or representatives interested in getting into new areas. And that, with the two agreements are being negotiated and we hope to sign – one which is an exchange of sensitive information, and other cooperation in the defense area, will make it possible to step up out exchange in much more sophisticated and sensitive areas. We already do a lot – joint military exercises, personnel exchanges, but to take it to a higher level of exchange we need these agreements. I have found Brazilian politicians who tell me they are ready to support it. What begins with this visit is very important, to give this opportunity to our two presidents to discuss highly complex, diverse subjects. It is a strategic partnership of the highest level.
Valor: The meeting includes a political partnership agreement, right?
Liliana: Yes, we have a mechanism – the Global Partnership Dialogue – in which the two parties, at the highest level – Secretary of State John Kerry with Minister Mauro Vieira – will have an agenda of global issues, which may include human rights, our peace operations, how to face the influence of the Islamic State and acts of terrorism, Syria, and Iran. Very complicated issues.
Valor: In which Brazil and the United States are often at odds…
Liliana: It is important to understand the differences and look for more opportunities to work together. Climate change, pandemics such as Ebola. We will have a mechanism of regular talks for us to understand each other and not let any differences create problems in relations between the two countries. We would like to find ways to get into these issues, finding more common ground.
Valor: Will the visit make mention of the spying scandal which put the two countries at odds?
Liliana: President Rousseff has said that this issue has been overcome, and the President (Obama) has stressed that if needed he will call her directly. It has been overcome, and so we are now working on a lot of specific issues that benefit both countries. This is our focus. If someone wants to ask, they can raise the issue, but it is not a focal point of our work in preparing the agenda.