U.S., Brazil Foster Economic Partnerships

February 11, 2011
National Museum, National Congress Reflected on National Library in Brasilia

About the Author: Jose W. Fernandez serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs.Bom Dia! Greetings from Brazil! I'm currently in Brasilia leading the U.S. delegation to the Economic Partnership Dialogue (EPD). The EPD was created in 2007 to provide a forum for the United States and Brazil to discuss how to promote the kind of economic advancement that generates prosperity throughout our societies. Under Secretary Pedro Carneiro de Mendonça led the Brazilian delegation, which included Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Mauro Viera, and other senior officials. We had very productive discussions today, and Brazil welcomed increased engagement to advance, expand, and deepen our partnership.

During the EPD, we talked about our ongoing technical cooperation to foster economic development, improve healthcare, and increase social inclusion in countries that face the greatest poverty challenges, such as in Haiti, for example, where Brazil's leadership has been critical to maintaining stability. We signed a new memorandum of understanding to establish a personnel exchange between USAID and the new Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC). And we noted the progress we are making in advancing sustainable agriculture and nutrition projects in Mozambique.

Also during the EPD, the Brazilian delegation presented plans to invest up to $106 billion over the next five years as they prepare to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Investment will be focused on infrastructure, construction, transportation systems, port and airport upgrades, public security, and training. This represents a tremendous opportunity for U.S. companies to contribute to Brazil's infrastructure development.

We also noted the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), which strives to advance hemispheric cooperation on energy security and climate change. Brazil was among the first to launch an ECPA initiative, focused on sustainable urban development and planning. Last November, Brazil hosted a conference on Sustainable Urban Planning and Energy Efficient Construction for Low-income Areas of the Americas. It was a remarkable success that expanded the academic and professional network of urban planners in the region. To support Brazil's efforts, the U.S. Government awarded the American Planners Association a grant to build a network of urban planners across the region.

In partnership with the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Brazil's Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Cities, we leveraged Rockefeller Foundation support to the Ashoka Changemakers Organization to launch a global prize competition under the ECPA Sustainable and Inclusive Housing Initiative. This competition challenges everyday citizens to develop low-cost housing solutions for the poor that are inclusive, sustainable, energy efficient, innovative and replicable. The official competition ends February 11, and winners will be selected March 22. Ashoka Changemakers will award a $10,000 prize to the overall winner in June. For more information, check out www.changemakers.com/sustainableurbanhousing.

The United States and Brazil are working to promote biofuels cooperation in developing countries. One of the highlights of my current trip has been meeting with a delegation from several partner countries who are seeking to cultivate biofuels capacity of their own . The group gained insight into Brazil's experience with sustainable bioenergy. Such tangible exchanges are critical, as our region seeks to improve its energy security and reduce its environmental footprint.

As you can see, this is an exciting time for the U.S.-Brazil relationship. We welcome the growing links between our governments, our private sectors, our universities and our people. With President Obama's upcoming trip here in March, we look forward to deepening and broadening our relationship even more.

Stay connected with Assistant Secretary Fernandez on Facebook and Twitter.

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