By Anna Fitzpatrick, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After becoming the first woman to open the UN General Assembly in New York last week, President Dilma Rousseff has arrived in Brussels for the fifth Brazil-EU Summit. She is expected to be in Europe for seven days in a trip that will include a visit to Turkey as well as Bulgaria, where her father was born.
On the agenda for the trip is the possibility of securing an FTA (Fair Trade Agreement) between Mercosur and the EU. Initial talks between Mercosur and the EU broke down in 2006, and since resuming earlier this year, there has been little practical development in the relationship between the two trading blocs.
Rousseff will be working to underscore how this relationship will benefit Europe during economically difficult times, attempting to ease fears particularly over farming.
Other subjects are expected to include sustainable development and the relationship between Israel and Palestine. During her trip Rousseff is also expected to meet with FIFA to discuss Brazil’s preparations regarding the 2014 World Cup, including building delays and ticket pricing.
Rousseff will stress the importance of both developed and developing economies working together to overcome the current financial crisis. She stressed during the 66th UN Assembly the importance of “courage” from developing nations, particularly in Europe in the face of growing uncertainties.
After the U.S., Switzerland and Canada, Brazil is the fourth largest recipient of European investment. In 2010, European investment in Brazil reached nearly US$9 billion, and already in the first seven months of this year it has been US$23 billion, according to Brazilian presidential spokesman Rodrigo Baena.
It is on the back of this that Rousseff is looking for investors in telecommunications and air transport, for which she will offer tax breaks to sweeten the deal.
Brazil is already an important trading partner for European companies such as Telefónica, and French company Renault-Nissan said last week they were planning expansion in Brazil as areas such as telecommunications and the automobile industry grow in size and importance.
Renault-Nissan announced on Saturday that the company was looking to double its market share in Brazil over the next five years. The company will expand their current plant in Paraná and are expected to open a new plant in Rio de Janeiro.
The EU Summit offers Rousseff the chance to further Brazil’s position on the international stage, and after the UN General Assembly she met with President Obama in New York, where they launched the “Partnership for Open Government,” a project between the two nations to promote budget transparency and the right for the public to access information. The meeting built on ties established during Obama’s trip to Brazil earlier this year.
Rousseff used her platform at the UN to underlie the fact that the current crisis was caused by developed economies rather than emerging ones. She also championed the important role Brazil can play in overcoming the crisis.
“For me it was an honor to open the UN General Assembly. Besides being the first woman to speak at the opening, I was there representing Brazil, a country that is increasingly taking prominence on the international scene,” she said after the meeting.