After meeting US president Barack Obama in the White House Oval Office, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff told reporters, today, that she talked with him about the ill effects of Washington’s and Europe’s monetary policies, which are hurting developing countries like Brazil.
She had already referred recently to a “monetary tsunami” that according to her has taken global speculative money to Brazil, raising the value of the real and making Brazilian exports less competitive in the world market.
Rousseff is in the United States for discussions on the international economic crisis, the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development (in June in Rio de Janeiro) and the new student exchange program, Science Without Borders (Ciência sem Fronteiras).
The two presidents will take part in the closing ceremony of a meeting of business executives from both countries. Dilma will also close a Brazil – United States Business Seminar: Partnership for the 21st Century. After that, she will meet American business leaders.
Brazil and the United States will sign at least ten bilateral cooperation agreements in the areas of science, technology, energy and culture. It is also possible that the Obama administration will make it easier for Brazilians to obtain US visas.
Brazil is now in sixth place in number of visitors to the US, behind Canada, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany (the US is the second most visited country by Brazilians, behind Argentina).
Dilma and Obama will discuss the situation in Syria and the forthcoming Summit of the Americas scheduled for this month in Colombia where there is controversy over the absence of Cuba with Chaves of Venezuela and Morales of Bolivia threatening to boycott the summit. Brazil has said its official position is that this should be the last summit without Cuba.
On Tuesday, April 10, Dilma will visit Harvard University and MIT as part of the groundwork for the ambitious government program (Ciência sem Fronteiras) that aims to send 100,000 Brazilians to study in the world’s best universities between now and 2014.
The tone of this trip, according to Brazilian authorities, is balance – a relationship where differences do not interfere with partnerships and agreements. There already exist some 24 so-called bilateral mechanisms (or agreements) between Brazil and the United States.
One of the new ones that will be signed today is a partnership between the Brazilian Institute of Museums and the Smithsonian Institute for training of professionals.
Dilma Rousseff will insist on the presence of Barack Obama at the Rio+20 conference in June. It is expected that 100 heads of state and government will attend the event.
Brazil wants to increase scientific cooperation with the United States. And one step forward in that effort will be to send some 20,000 scholarship students, professionals and researchers to study in American universities and corporations.
The plan is part of a new program, Science Without Borders that will send 100,000 young people abroad over the next four years. The government will sponsor 75,000 and expects the private sector to pick up the bill for the other 25,000.
The scholarships will run the gamut from graduate to postgraduate studies, with opportunities for sandwich degrees (when a student begins a study program in his home country, travels abroad for part of the program and then returns home to finish it). They will cover 18 areas of technology and engineering, including biomedicine and biodiversity.
“The United States will be the main destination of Ciência sem Fronteiras scholars. Between now and 2014, we will send 20,000 students there,” explained Marco Antonio Raupp, minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.
“Among other reasons for this trip to the US, we want a new agreement between MIT and our ITA (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica – ITA) that will bring more Americans to Brazil so we can double ITA’s capacity in graduating professionals.”
Along with ITA, the Space Research Institute (IPEA) has been the main center for scientists and engineers in Brazil and according to Raupp there is an agreement with NASA creating more room for both institutions to work together and grow. While in the US, minister Raupp will meet with the White House scientific advisor, John P. Holdren.
The president of Brazil’s Scientific and Technological Development Council (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico – CNPq), Glaucius Oliva, will sign cooperation agreements with ten American universities. And the president of Project Financing (Financiadora de Projetos – Finep), Glauco Arbix, will participate in discussions on research, innovation and labor market cooperation agreements with American counterparts.
As she arrives in Washington on her first official visit, president Dilma Rousseff represents a new Brazil, different from the past. It is now an emerging economy that skirted the worst effects of the international financial crisis with the result that it is growing and adding jobs. It is a Brazil interested in business opportunities above all.
According to José Augusto Castro, the president of the Foreign Trade Association of Brazil (AEB), this is the first trip to the US by a Brazilian president in over a decade that will focus mainly on commerce.
“They have been meeting to discuss the United Nations or the International Monetary Fund,” he said. But, this is a moment that favors Brazil. “Brazil has solid financial health and is attracting the interest of other countries. The United States is the world’s biggest market and we have to be actively present there because we have drifted away. We have to take advantage of the interest in Brazil’s growing markets by the Americans,” said Castro.
In 2011, Brazil’s biggest export item to the US was crude petroleum. According to the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Brazilian exports to the US in 2011 totaled US$ 25.9 billion (slightly more than 10% of all Brazilian exports – US$ 256 billion).
However, Brazil is running a trade deficit with the US – in 2011 it was US$ 9 billion.
Castro says that Dilma knows that nowadays commercial relations are based on business relations not ideology.