Lorrie Fussell is the Brazil Desk Officer in the Market Access and Compliance division of the International Trade Administration.
Earlier this month, Brazil celebrated its Independence Day and it is noteworthy to congratulate Brazil on how far it has progressed. Not only did Brazil celebrate its Declaration of Independence from Portugal, dating back to 7 September 1822, but it can also be said that Brazil has gained its independence from the outdated image as the “country of the future”. Brazil has arrived!
With close to 195 million inhabitants and a rapidly growing middle class, Brazil stands out in the global marketplace for the tremendous opportunities it offers U.S. companies. Total bilateral trade in 2010 amounted to $59.4 billion, over twice the amount of our trade in 2000 at $29.2 billion. More impressive is the fact that Brazil’s GDP, which stood at $2.17 trillion in 2010, has increased by more than 75 percent in the last 10 years, despite one of the worst global economic downturns in history. (Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database).
Presidents Obama and Rousseff address the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum at the last meeting held March 19, 2011 in Brazil.
The United States has a long-standing and close relationship with Brazil. President Barack Obama solidified the bond this past March during his trip to Brazil when he and President Rousseff agreed to enhance cooperation on trade, investment, climate, environment, and sustainable development. We see that enthusiasm for Brazil mirrored by U.S. companies interested in doing business in the market. Last month, Nicole Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services at the International Trade Administration, accompanied the Export Green Trade Mission to Brazil. Commerce Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez will inaugurate the first ever U.S. Pavilion at the October 3-4 Off Shore Technology Conference and Trade Show in Rio de Janeiro. More than 175 American companies will be participating in this trade show, which is supported by the Department of Commerce and highlights the innovation and leadership of U.S. companies in offshore energy development.
Recognizing that the United States and Brazil are linked both economically and commercially, in 2007 the two governments launched the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum as a means to improve our trading partnership. The U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum is a public-private partnership between the United Sates and Brazilian Governments which brings together Chief Executive Officers from both countries. Ten to twelve CEOs from each country develop joint recommendations for the two governments with the goal of increasing bilateral trade and investment for both sides.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Security Council, U.S. co-chairs of the CEO Forum, announced the names of the next U.S. Section to the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum. These CEOs were appointed to the Forum in order to work with their Brazilian colleagues to develop joint recommendations for the governments to improve international trade and economic growth. The CEO Forum provides important joint recommendations from the U.S. and Brazilian private sector at a time when both the United States and Brazilian Governments are redefining their economic partnership.
Working together, the United States and Brazil have made progress on a number of the areas identified by the CEO Forum as a priority.
- Taking into consideration the joint recommendation made by the CEOs, the U.S. Trade Representative and the Brazilian Foreign Ministry signed the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ATEC) this past March. The ATEC will create a framework for deepening our cooperation on trade issues, such as intellectual property rights, trade facilitation, and technical barriers to trade. The first meeting under the ATEC is expected later this year.
- In October 2007, at the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, the CEOs made visa reform a top priority. Thanks to the efforts of the group, the United States and the Brazilian Governments extended the visa validity for business and tourist visas from five to ten years, and the issuance of the joint B1/B2 business/tourist visas became a matter of practice in both countries as of May 2010. In addition, the United States Government has made significant efforts in reducing the visa backlog. Although visa reform has helped make immeasurable strides in improving travel between our two countries, the CEOs have now asked that the United States consider including Brazil in the Visa Waiver Program
- In response to the joint recommendation of the CEO Forum to provide greater cooperation between our two governments on energy issues, the United States and Brazilian Governments held the first high-level energy dialogue last month. This Strategic Energy Dialogue will promote and strengthen partnerships between the governments. We look forward to working with our Brazilian colleagues as we look for ways to use the SED to strengthen U.S.–Brazil commercial ties in the energy sector.
- The CEOs have also been instrumental in recommending improved civil aviation between our countries. After years of stalled negotiations, an Open Skies Agreement was signed this past March which allows for significant expansion of services between our countries. Additionally, our governments are now looking to create an aviation cooperation program that would work in partnership with the private sector.
Outstanding recommendations of the Forum still remain, the governments still have their work cut out for them, but we are excited to see what new ideas and recommendations the CEOs will submit to our governments as we move forward. The continued drive to improve our business relationship is, in the end what will make our partnership a success.