Remarks Roberta S. Jacobson
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
March 12, 2012
Good morning. Thank you, Ambassador Harrington, for the kind introduction and for the Wilson Center hosting this event, and to Ambassador Vieira, Dan Restrepo, and Leo Martinez-Diaz for joining us this morning. I’d also like to thank all of you for being here today—the number of people in this room, and the need to have an overflow room clearly speaks to the huge interest in the important and growing relationship between the United States and Brazil.
That is no surprise. As two of the world’s largest economies and democracies, with values we share and goals that converge across a whole range of issues, Brazil and the United States are natural partners. Even that simple sentence: that we are natural partners, would not have been obvious just 5 years ago. Building a deeper and more comprehensive partnership with Brazil is a high priority for the United States. Secretary Clinton has described our relationship as the foundation of a new global architecture of cooperation. Our engagement with Brazil centers on how our two countries can work together to achieve inclusive prosperity not just in our nations but throughout the Western Hemisphere and around the world. You will hear today about economic, energy, and education cooperation—just some of the areas in which we want to increase our investment -- and by this I mean not only financial investment, but investment in people, through support for innovation that will bring us the next generation of technological advances.
I couldn’t agree more with Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns’ statement during his visit to Brazil a few weeks ago that “[Brazil] 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.”
Deputy Secretary Burns’ words echo President Obama’s message in Rio almost exactly one year ago today: “the American people don’t just recognize Brazil’s success – we root for Brazil’s success. …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.” In the year since President Obama’s visit, we have partnered with Brazil to deepen our relationship and make good on the commitments made by our two Presidents. In a time of shrinking budgets, we are looking at opening new consulates in Brazil to keep up with exponential growth in visa demand and engage more throughout Brazil.
You will hear today about the literally dozens of dialogues we have created with Brazil to advance our mutual interests—dialogues on economic and financial issues, on energy, on non-proliferation, on science and technology, on racial discrimination, and on global affairs, to name just a few. A prime area of engagement between our two countries—and one that has room for even greater expansion—is economic cooperation. We have expert exchanges on clean and conventional energies, including biofuels, in the context of our Strategic Energy Dialogue. We collaborate on sustainable urban development and planning as part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. We recently launched a Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability that will leverage investments in sustainable infrastructure, green building, intelligent transportation, and clean energy projects. We have also increased our trilateral collaboration on issues as diverse as food security and agricultural biotechnology in Africa and counternarcotics cooperation with Bolivia. We collaborate on women’s issues, specifically promoting economic empowerment, addressing gender-based violence, improving women’s health, and increasing their participation in science and technology.
But a theme running through nearly all of those dialogues is that of social inclusion: How can we bring all members of our diverse societies into the mainstream social and economic life of our nations to empower them to reach their full potential. As our populations and economies grow, it is important that the benefits accrue to all sectors. This includes historically marginalized sectors such as women, people of African descent, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and LGBT people. We have elevated this issue to become a bilateral priority through the Joint Action Plan on the Promotion of Racial and Ethnic Equality, which takes a comprehensive approach to expanding opportunities for all. This includes extending this theme across areas of collaboration—as we did last year when we agreed to share best business and labor practices and training to assist Afro-Brazilian and U.S. ethnic minority businesses find opportunities leading up to the World Cup and Olympic Games.
When we talk about economic growth and expanding the range of opportunities, we have to take a serious look at education and how we are building the work force we need for the 21st century. This reality places educational cooperation high on the list of our bilateral priorities with Brazil. When President Obama visited Latin America last year, he announced 100,000 Strong for the Americas, a goal to increase the number of Latin American and Caribbean students in the United States, and students from the United States studying in the region, to 100,000 each year in each direction. Soon after that announcement, we welcomed President Rousseff’s Science without Borders Initiative, a perfect complement to 100,000 Strong in the Americas. We are working diligently with Brazilian partners to expand opportunities for Brazilian students and welcome them to our campuses. We have put into place a framework that spans educational advising, consular services, and English language programs to prepare these students to go to the United States. We are proud that the United States was the first country to work with our Brazilian counterparts to welcome the first group of Science without Borders students last January, over 650 of them and we look forward to receiving thousands more. But beyond just those students ‘formally’ part of the Science without Borders, we are opening up exchange opportunities to those who might never have had them before. When Secretary Clinton and I welcomed the 40 most recent ‘Youth Ambassadors’ to the State Department after their month in communities throughout the United States, I am proud to say that they reflected the diversity of Brazil—diversity they found mirrored in the United States. And hearing their stories of community action and ideas for making a difference in their own communities upon return was the best return on investment we could imagine.
Even with all the progress in our bilateral cooperation since President Obama’s visit to Brazil last year, President Rousseff’s upcoming visit to Washington represents an opportunity to do even more. I know that Dan Restrepo will discuss her visit in more detail. But President Rousseff’s visit will not end this intense engagement; Secretary Clinton will travel to Brazil on April 16 for the next meeting of our Global Partnership Dialogue, as well as the Open Government Partnership, which we were proud to co-chair in its inaugural year with the Brazilian government. Her engagement will explore further ways to expand our bilateral and trilateral cooperation on regional and global issues.
The United States and Brazil have a long and productive relationship, built on almost two centuries of partnership and trust. But we are taking that partnership to a new level, one that brings concrete benefits to our citizens and to the world. We look forward to welcoming President Rousseff and continuing to work with her administration and Brazil’s dynamic private sector to embrace our broad agenda and new challenges together. Our ongoing cooperation will chart a mutual course for a more open and prosperous international community, and for better lives for our people.