Despite All Brazil and US Have Common Goal in Middle East, Says Deputy Secretary of State

William J. Burns US deputy secretary of State, William Joseph Burns, talked yesterday, March 1st, in Rio about the links between the United States and Brazil stating that both countries are “natural partners in a rapidly changing world.” We reproduce below his remarks in their entirety:

Thank you, Henrique, for your very kind introduction, and for your distinguished leadership of AmCham Rio de Janeiro. I would also like to thank Ambassador Tom Shannon, who is a good friend, a very fine diplomat, a believer in Brazil, and a champion of our partnership.

It truly is an honor for me to address all of you in Rio’s historic former Stock Exchange on this historic day, which marks the 447th anniversary of the founding of this “Marvelous City.” I would like to thank the Bolsa de Valores and BMF Bovespa Group for hosting us today. I would also like to acknowledge CEBRI and its president, Ambassador Luiz Augusto de Castro Neves, as well as AmCham Rio de Janeiro, for their support.

It is always a pleasure to visit Brazil, but now is a particularly opportune moment. As two of the world’s largest economies and democracies, with shared values and increasingly converging goals, Brazil and the United States are natural partners in a rapidly changing world.

From the earliest days of the Obama Administration, building deeper and more comprehensive partnerships with emerging powers like Brazil has been a very high priority for the United States. Secretary Clinton describes such partnerships as the foundation of a new global architecture of cooperation. Our focus on Brazil stems from fundamental truths about the transformed world in which we live. In this new world, power and influence are more diffuse. There are more global players on every issue, not just governments but also businesses, civil society groups, and individual citizens. And more and more challenges are common to all of us, demanding complex and cooperative solutions.

There is much that is daunting about this transformation. Yet it is also becoming clear what it takes to thrive in the twenty-first century. This new world plays to the strengths of democracies that deliver for their citizens and embrace transparency and accountability. It plays to the strengths of dynamic, innovative economies that can grow over the long term. And it plays to the strengths of those who recognize the need for inclusive prosperity that spreads opportunity widely and is powered by clean energy and sustainable resources.

For all these reasons, Brazil matters enormously in the world of the twenty-first century. It is an essential player in a world in which shared global challenges are met with more resilient twenty-first century partnerships. For Brazil is a society that has not just embraced democracy, but draws on and celebrates its diversity as a source of strength, a tool for overcoming inequality and expanding opportunity. It is an economy that has brought millions out of poverty and into the middle class while creating world-class innovators and companies. It is a success story and an example that can inspire solutions elsewhere.

That is why President Obama’s central message in Rio almost exactly one year ago bears repeating: “the American people don’t just recognize Brazil’s success – we root for Brazil’s success. As you confront the many challenges you still face at home as well as abroad, let us stand together – not as senior and junior partners, but as equal partners, joined in a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect, committed to the progress that I know that we can make together.”

We’ve made a lot of progress since President Obama’s visit, but the upcoming stretch of high-level engagement, starting with President Rousseff’s visit to Washington in April, represents an opportunity to do even more. It’s also a good moment to reflect on the promise of the future. For the United States, that promise means a U.S.-Brazil partnership that will be central to our success and vitality at home – and to our fundamental interests and values around the world, for decades to come. And we stand ready to build a partnership that will hold the same promise for Brazil.

Now, I know that there are skeptics who prefer to focus on where we differ rather than on what unites us. We will always have differences, and we must confront them squarely, frankly, and respectfully. But they pale next to what we can achieve by working together – a fact that is increasingly clear in both of our countries. It is not just evident in the affirmations of our leaders. It is evident in the values of our societies, the voices of our peoples, the deepening connections between us. With the U.S.-Brazil partnership, those of us in government are really catching up with the societies we serve and represent.

Before I touch on some of the ways we are working to expand our partnership, let me first elaborate on why we in the United States not only welcome Brazil’s embrace of a central global role, but see it as crucial for the kind of world we both are trying to build and for our societies to thrive.

While the list of issues I could cover here is long and growing, I don’t want to wear out the warm carioca welcome you’ve given me today. So I’ll focus on three areas where a strong, successful, and active Brazil is particularly advantageous and crucial from the United States’ perspective.

Economy and Opportunity

The first of these is the natural preoccupation of both our governments – the challenge of promoting growth and opportunity in the fast-paced, broad-based competition of the twenty-first century global economy. I don’t need to remind this audience that Brazil’s recent record is nothing short of extraordinary. The world was reminded when Brazil officially became the sixth-largest global economy, and it will be reminded yet again when Brazil becomes the fifth-largest economy in a few years.

Brazil’s success is a testament to unique and enduring strengths: The shared commitment of some remarkable Brazilian presidents to inclusive growth, a commitment that is deeper than ever under President Rousseff today. A young and dynamic population, with nearly two thirds under age 29. Innovative social policies that have spread opportunity. And above all, the tens of millions of Brazilians who have seized those opportunities to bring themselves out of poverty.

These achievements hold long-term significance not just for Brazilians, but also for the United States and the rest of the world. The fact that Brazil is not just a rising power, but a diverse, vibrant, and democratic rising power, proves that democracy and development can, should, and do go hand in hand. And as Brazil’s remarkable growth continues, it offers new possibilities for the U.S.-Brazil partnership – through trade, through investment in both directions, and through sharing knowledge and a common commitment to education and innovation.

Last year, our presidents finalized agreements – on open skies, on trade and economic cooperation, and on space cooperation, to name a few – that laid the groundwork for an ambitious and forward-looking economic agenda. We are strengthening our cooperation on education, science and technology, and innovation. We have so much to offer one another when it comes to the major ingredients of success in a twenty-first century economy, but we have only begun to tap our shared potential. We have a lot more to do.

Since I’m in Rio, I hardly need mention Brazil’s centrality to twenty-first century energy markets – a boon to energy security, stability, and sustainability. Pre-salt oil deposits, as the energy expert Daniel Yergin has said, could make Brazil “the powerhouse of Latin American oil” and a major exporter to the United States. We are committed to sharing U.S. expertise and investment as Brazilian companies take the lead, ready to partner with Brazil to build a world-class energy sector – as President Obama emphasized when he and President Rousseff launched our Strategic Energy Dialogue last year.

Just as importantly, we look to Brazil for leadership in developing clean-energy technologies. Our countries have the deepest biofuels cooperation in the world. We are working together on biofuels for aviation, and developing the biofuels capacities of Honduras, El Salvador, Senegal, and Guatemala. Brazil pioneered using alternative energy sources in vehicles, and has one of the cleanest energy supplies in the world, with 45 percent from renewables. And accelerating the U.S. move in that direction is a top priority for President Obama. By embracing clean energy, Brazil is building its prosperity to last.

Brazil also recognizes that twenty-first century prosperity must be built on the knowledge, creativity, and innovation of its people. That is a cornerstone of the “American dream,” and today, it is a cornerstone of the dreams of the more than 100 million Brazilians who are members of the middle class, and tens of millions more hoping to join them. The United States is your natural partner as you work to drive twenty-first century innovation here in Brazil – by building ties between our people, our companies, our universities, and our governments that generate shared knowledge, shared technology, and shared growth.

Today, we know that nations like the United States and Brazil do not simply compete. We make things together, we innovate together, we advance together. In the United States, we are well aware that our success will depend on embracing complementarities with innovative, dynamic partners. And Brazil can and should be at the top of that list.

Our bilateral trade in goods set a new record of over $74 billion last year. And our commercial relationship is a genuine two-way street – both of our countries benefit from trading a wide swath of value-added products and services, from forging joint ventures, and from seeking and bringing investment.

The example of one of Brazil’s global firms captures much of this win-win potential: Embraer sells nearly two thirds of its planes to U.S. customers, but it also buys nearly two thirds of the inputs for those planes from U.S. suppliers. Another example is Ford, which came to Brazil in 1919, was the first company to make vehicles in Brazil, and now employs more than 12,000 people in numerous facilities around the country. The efficient, next-generation Ford EcoSport was developed in Brazil, unveiled earlier this year in Brasilia, and will soon roll off the assembly line in Bahía.

But we are still nowhere near our full potential. Our regional and local governments know this, and are crossing the Equator more and more often to build partnerships. So do our private sectors, which are setting their own records. One of the biggest U.S. trade delegations ever was here in Rio a few months ago. And these U.S. delegations and firms do not just seek to sell to Brazil; they are looking for new partnerships and new investment. We are proud to be the top foreign investor in Brazil, and welcome growing Brazilian investment. Few know that Brazil invested $2.7 billion in the United States in 2010, and that a Brazilian company owns Burger King.

To help create the Embraers and Fords of tomorrow, we are eagerly partnering in President Rousseff’s Science Without Borders Initiative – a powerful example of Brazil’s far-sighted vision of success in the twenty-first century. We proudly became the first country to welcome Brazil’s future generation of bright aspiring scientists, engineers and mathematicians, helping to connect them to the United States’ best higher education institutions and quickly issuing their visas. We look forward to welcoming thousands more!

Out there are future world-class Brazilian scientists, seeking to follow in the footsteps of heroes like physicist and astronomer Dr. Marcelo Gleiser, who brought science to millions through his television series and newspaper columns and is now a professor at Dartmouth University. Or engineer Dr. Jean Paul Jacob, who earned his graduate degrees from UC Berkeley and established the first IBM Scientific Center of South America and the Institute for Software Engineering. The deans and presidents of more than 100 U.S. colleges and universities in 42 states have embraced Science Without Borders as a historic opportunity for their own institutions, and the interest is growing every day.

Because these exchanges are as important to the United States as they are to Brazil, last year, President Obama announced his own “100,000 Strong in the Americas” goal, which aims to increase both the number of students from the Americas studying in the United States and the number of U.S. students studying abroad in the Americas. We look forward to educational exchange being high on the agenda when President Rousseff visits Washington. And as we in government have emphasized the value of international education, the private sector has begun to step forward to support these initiatives, recognizing that they are a critical investment in their future workforce and that building human capital is the only real guarantee of innovation.

Our growing business and education ties have resulted in more Brazilians than ever visiting the United States. In just four months, we processed more than 365,000 nonimmigrant visas – 62 percent more than the same period a year earlier. São Paulo is now the busiest U.S. consulate in the world, and over the next five years the number of Brazilians traveling to the United States is forecast to increase by an additional 150 percent. We are redoubling our efforts to meet this surging demand. We are dedicating unprecedented personnel and financial resources to increase our visa capacity. Right here in Rio, our consulate reduced the average wait time for a visa interview from 146 days just seven months ago, to around 15 days now. That is remarkable progress, but we’ll keep striving to do even better.

Our shared success will not come only through working together bilaterally. We also have a shared stake in a global economic system that fosters innovation and broad growth through a commitment to principles of competition and fairness. Brazil has proven its ability to thrive in such an economy, and it has the strengths to continue thriving in the future. That means working together to bolster and update such a system as historic changes in the global economy create new shared challenges.

Global Challenges

That brings me to a second area where we see enormous potential in a strong and active Brazil – addressing a broad range of global challenges. Around the world, we share fundamental interests in achieving peace, stability, and prosperity. And we can and must do more together to achieve those goals.

Shared interests do not bring automatic agreement. To advance them, we don’t always have to agree, but we do both have to listen, consult, and accept responsibility. Like riding a bicycle, relations between great powers take constant effort: stop pedaling and you fall on your side. Stop talking and you miss opportunities to find common ground.

Look at the Middle East today – a region where, as all of you know, we have had our disagreements. We in the United States nevertheless recognize the advantages of an active Brazil as we pursue a shared objective: supporting regional solutions that foster dignity, progress, and opportunity for the region’s citizens – whether in Egypt and Tunisia or Libya and Syria. Brazil’s own democratic transition and its longstanding people-to-people ties to the region give it a unique role in helping new and emerging Middle Eastern democracies find their own path to stability and success. Just last week, the United States and Brazil joined some 70 other countries at an important international meeting in Tunisia on the imperative of protecting civilians in Syria, where the regime continues to engage in unconscionable brutality against the Syrian people. Indeed, for societies everywhere seeking a greater voice in their governments and economies, Brazil’s embrace of broader responsibilities on the global stage is a very good thing.

Brazil has also demonstrated its commitment to strengthening and updating the multilateral architecture that has underpinned global peace and stability for more than six decades. President Obama acknowledged and expressed appreciation for Brazil’s aspiration to become a permanent member of the Security Council. We have helped elevate the G-20 because it reflects the global importance of countries like Brazil – and Secretary Clinton was delighted to attend the first G-20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Mexico last week. For those of us who seek to move to a G-20 mindset, and to embrace a common agenda for global problem-solving, Brazil’s growing role on the global stage is a very good thing.

Brazil has long been admired for its dedication to sustainable development, green growth, and combating climate change. We will continue to work closely with Brazil to make the upcoming Rio+20 a successful, landmark meeting that results in real global progress – progress that would not have been possible without Brazil’s strong and sustained leadership. For our children and grandchildren, Brazil’s growing role on the global stage is a very good thing.

Brazil has also become a leader on food security. This leadership is built on Brazil’s transformation into not just an agricultural powerhouse, but also a top innovator in agricultural science. With a Brazilian heading the Food and Agriculture Organization, with your exporters among the most successful in the world, and with your private companies and government agencies partnering with companies and governments elsewhere – your expertise is reaching millions beyond Brazil’s borders. For the world’s farmers and the world’s hungry, Brazil’s growing role on the global stage is a very good thing.

Naturally, Brazil is a leader within our Hemisphere, as shown by its extended leadership of the UN mission in Haiti and its support for economic integration with its neighbors. We have partnered on challenges that affect both of our societies, such as counternarcotics in Bolivia and helping ensure a fair election in Haiti. So for those in the Americas who want a safer, more secure future, Brazil’s growing role on the global stage is a very good thing.

Brazil is also especially relevant as the world turns its focus to the Asia-Pacific, a region we see extending from the Americas to India. The United States and Brazil have a profound and shared stake in a stable, secure, and prosperous Pacific. We need balanced trade, a level playing field, and clear rules of the road. We in the United States see a democratic, integrated, and economically vibrant Americas as a strategic anchor for the Pacific century unfolding before us – and Brazil can be a key force in making that happen. Looking ahead, for all of us with a stake in a stable and prosperous Pacific, Brazil’s growing global role is a very good thing.

Shared values

Most of all, what makes me especially confident that Brazil’s growing global role is a very good thing is the third area I want to address – our shared values.

Presidents Rousseff and Obama pointed to this as the ultimate source of our shared potential, the foundation of a long-term partnership and friendship between two multicultural nations. They recognized that when we talk about our values, they are not just U.S. and Brazilian values, not just Western values, but universal values that shape and define a vision for progress and international order that is shared around the globe.

And we are well aware that when a country like Brazil speaks out – a country with its own powerful story of embracing democracy and human rights, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and social inclusion – the world listens very carefully.

Shared values have driven commitments by both of our countries to help sub-Saharan Africa find new opportunities for its people. We admire Brazil’s growing presence in the region, reflecting a sense of responsibility for bringing the lessons of its own experience to others. Today, we are finding new ways to work together in Africa, like our agricultural biotechnology collaboration in Mozambique and Ghana, sharing resources and expertise to advance common values and goals. Brazil and the United States have been steadfast leaders in combating the AIDS pandemic, and now, if we persist, an AIDS-free generation is finally within reach.

We also recognize Brazil’s growing commitment to advancing human rights globally. We appreciated Brazil’s active role in the Human Rights Council and appreciate its continuing to speak out on important issues after its term ended. Secretary Clinton will visit Brasilia next month for a summit that advances shared values of openness, accountability, and intolerance for corruption – the Open Government Partnership launched by our Presidents last September in New York, and which we are proud to co-chair with Brazil. The partnership now includes 52 countries, as well as civil society. And, according to Forbes magazine, we share two of the three most powerful women in the world in President Rousseff and Secretary Clinton. They are especially powerful advocates for the rights of women, and for the universal human rights of all.

Looking Ahead

As I noted earlier, the next few months present an extraordinary opportunity to capitalize on convergences and shared commitments to promote prosperity, solve global problems, and champion our common values. There is President Rousseff’s visit to Washington in April; the Summit of the Americas just days later in Cartagena; Secretary Clinton’s visit to Brasilia; and finally, the gathering of leaders from around the world here in Rio in June, not to mention the World Cup and Olympics a little farther out.

The people of both of our countries are truly making good on the promise of U.S.-Brazil partnership – the businesses finding opportunities for trade and investment and shared innovation, the students learning and teaching in each others’ universities, the tourists supporting jobs and growth.

Our governments have taken steps to build a more structured and robust relationship. Presidential-level dialogues on our shared agenda – the Economic and Financial Dialogue, the Strategic Energy Dialogue, and the Global Partnership Dialogue – ensure that our senior officials meet regularly at the highest levels. And it seems like every other week we are signing another agreement on collaboration, whether on aviation or biofuels or promoting racial and ethnic equality. This is an enormous agenda, but it reflects the enormity of our shared interests, our shared values, and our shared potential.

The truth is that the future holds many challenges for both our countries, but it also holds extraordinary promise. Never has there been a moment when our success, at home and abroad, depended more on one another. Never has there been a moment when Brazil’s continuing rise as a global power mattered more to the United States. Never has there been a moment when our practical cooperation mattered more to progress in this Hemisphere, and around the world. And never has there been a moment when Brazilians and Americans had more to gain from partnership, or more to do together to shape the future we share.

Thank you.


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