The XXIII Plenary Meeting of the Brazil-United States Entrepreneurial Council got underway yesterday in Rio. In his speech, Brazil’s Ambassador to the U.S., Roberto Abdenur, said that one of the challenges facing Brazil and the U.S. is to overcome differences regarding subsidies granted to agriculture in the United States.
According to Abdenur, in 2005 Brazil will seek new market niches, through activities carried out within the United States.
These activities, said the Ambassador, will be designed to broaden American citizens’ awareness of Brazil.
Trade promotion, cultural diffusion, and tourism campaigns will be developed to improve Brazil’s image among the American public.
Despite the good relations between the two countries, the Brazilian Ambassador acknowledged that bilateral trade and scientific, technological, and cultural exchanges are less than what the two countries’ economic potential would lead one to expect.
He also expressed concern over the 8% growth rate in Brazilian shipments to the American market – well below the overall level of Brazilian exports.
Abdenur pointed out, however, that the program of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Administration and the measures adopted so far have raised the degree of investor confidence in the Brazilian economy.
“Right now, any residual doubt about the Brazilian economy has vanished completely,” the Ambassador emphasized.
The American Ambassador to Brazil, John Danilovich, who also participated in the meeting, considers 2005 a very optimistic timetable for concluding negotiations over the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), but he assured that he will do what he can to reach an agreement.
Danilovich delivered a positive assessment of trade relations between the two countries and said that the United States is “a great trade partner of Brazil.”
He also underscored the presence of various American companies in the country and the cooperation between the two countries in the war on terrorism.
The American Ambassador also evaluated as “very positive” the three-day visit by the American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to Brazil.
Danilovich said that there is a clear perception that the two governments are working to make the relationship between both nations increasingly “firm and robust.”
For the Ambassador, there is no doubt about Brazil’s leadership in Latin America.
He emphasized President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s iniciative in promoting a campaign to combat hunger and said that his country is in favor of the initiative, even while admitting differences of opinion regarding the most correct way to implement the proposal.
Danilovich guaranteed that the United States is not worried about the Brazilian nuclear program and reaffirmed his faith that President Lula’s Administration will not develop a program that is harmful to other nations.
By way of a videoconference, the ex-American Ambassador to Brazil, Donna Hrinak, said she does not expect changes in the relations between her country and Latin America in the next four years.
“Latin America will not occupy the center of American policy. We shall continue the way we are now,” she affirmed.
Hrinak also explained that, regardless of who is elected President, the American Congress is likely to maintain the rules to protect employment in the United States and American products.
A survey of members of Congress shows that 63% of the Democrats and 60% of the Republicans call for measures that are even more protectionist.
The meeting ends today.
Translator: David Silberstein