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By Nestor Bailly, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Early last week it was released that in March, U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Brazil on his first trip to South America. The announcement comes shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attendance at Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s inauguration, and the trip is widely viewed as a rejuvenation for U.S.-Brazilian relations.

U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Brazil in March 2011, photo by Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Specifically mentioned in the U.S. Presidential State of the Union address last week, the trip takes the Obama to Chile, Brazil, and El Salvador to “forge new alliances across the Americas.”

For Brazil, this means reinforcing the bilateral relationship after some rifts following former president Lula’s foray into the Middle East peace process and negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Another point of conflict was the near trade war over illegal U.S. cotton subsidies, which effected Brazil’s ability to compete in the market. A deal was announced on April 6th, one day before Brazil would have begun implementing retaliatory sanctions worth US$830 million.

President Rousseff’s new administration has sent numerous signals that it wants to improve ties with the U.S., most significantly by distancing itself from Lula’s Iran policies. Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that since 2009 there has been a strong desire to rebuild relations, marked by high-level visits, between the two most populous and powerful nations in the western hemisphere.

“[Antonio] Patriota [then Secretary-General of the Ministry of External Relations] said the high-level visits are important for the tone of the relationship with Latin America as a whole, and Brazil in particular,” a cable from Brasilia reads. “They will allow our differences to be seen within a larger, and overall, positive context.”

President Obama’s upcoming trip is meant to do just that. Focusing on areas of mutual interest, the President is expected to push for greater trade and investment, especially in Brazil’s world-class clean energy industry. The U.S. is currently without a formal trade agreement with Brazil, the world’s eighth largest economy.

President Dilma previously met President Obama in the White House in 2009, before she was elected, photo by Agência Brasil.

Obama will also offer U.S. expertise with civil security in anticipation of the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, and assistance in intelligence and organizational coordination aimed at tackling Brazil’s narcotics trade is expected to be a top priority.

A looming issue remains unanswered with Brazil’s FX2 jet fighter procurement, a long-delayed multi-billion dollar defense contract aimed at purchasing 36 jets from France, the U.S., or Sweden. Former president Lula deferred the decision to his successor, Rousseff, who has not made any commitment yet.

Many analysts see Obama courting Brazil and its markets to counteract Chinese influence in the region. With Brazil’s huge oil and gas reserves, unneeded for its domestic market as Brazil is energy self-sufficient, Chinese state-owned companies are investing heavily in Brazilian mineral and energy infrastructure. However many in the Brazilian government are as critical of China’s trade and financial practices as the U.S. is.

The U.S. presidential visit to Brazil is a clear effort to align with Brazil’s emerging world power status and high rate of growth. The U.S. and Brazil have a lot in common, much more so than with China, and both countries are keen to open up the hugely profitable potential in the U.S.-Brazil relationship.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s hope that Mr. Obama and Ms. Rouseff mend fences and forge stronger economic and politcal ties for our two countries. I see no downsides to such relationship building.

  2. Brazil ‘s and U.S.A. ‘s political, economic and social interests should converge as much as possible, respecting the cultural differences and strengthening the diversity both countries have. I have felt a strong flux of American immigration to Brazil, usually connected to work in the oil and gas and infrastructure companies. And the immigration to the U.S. from Brazil, legal or illegal, is still of mutual interest to be in their agendas. Both our countries have talents to export and potential business to be explored.
    I hope Obama and Dilma include this issues in their agendas.
    From London,
    Daniel Bertorelli

  3. this will be great for both, Americans really do love Brazil and their great people….and we hope they feel the same way about us!

  4. Now that Uncle Sam can’t just come in and overthrow any government in the region that is doesn’t want anymore, it makes sense to form an alliance based on mutual respect and converging interests.

  5. America kind of ignored Brazil for many years and now Brazil is becoming a superpower- so of course they are trying to strengthen relations. The US economy is still struggling while Brazil’s is prospering. But I say better late than never. There are many similarities between our histories and cultures. As far as the BRICs go, Brazil is more “familiar” to Americans and less “complex” than India, China or Russia. And not to mention, Brazil’s relative attractiveness as a leisure destination cannot be ignored or underestimated.

  6. I heard that Cabral will take Obama to visit the UPP in Chapeu Mangueira in Leme. Nice postcard views, right..? Of course, there will be no visit to Complexo Alemao…

  7. Beeeeeee Carefulllllll Brasil!
    Make sure he does not try to trick Brasilians like he did American’s!
    He told us Americans he will give us a tax credit of about US$6,000.00 or more to buy a home, and then he gave us another tax credit of about US$2,000.00 or more to buy a new car. But guess what!? Everyone is very mad!!! Why? Because now those who took the “Bait” I mean tax credit must claim it on there 2010 tax and must pay it back!!!!! And they now say less people are not applying for unemployment money. (that’s because they are talking about the “first time” unemployed people who just got fired! And that others who lost their jobs just stop looking!
    So watch out for NO BAMA, NO CHANGE!

  8. I just returned to the USA from six weeks in Rio. I love Brazil but I love the USA too. I have always hoped for a strong diplomatic relationship with the Brazil and the USA. Both countries, in my opinion, have so much in common and could profit greatly from a positive and lasting relationship.

  9. It surely is a good thing to have America once again interested in Brazil like someone else has said, “the economy in Brazil is emerging and unfortunately America is still struggling”. Americans are very used to being the very best at everything they do, but sometimes that doesn’t work out as planned and a helping hand is needed to get yourself back up and that may be what America is trying to do and I truly hope they end up signing an agreement that will benefit both countries and its people. I’m Brazilian and I’ve been living in America for nearly half of my life and both countries to me… are home.

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