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Joe Biden in Brasília

Source: Brasilianas.Org

Biden and the U.S.-Brazil Relationship

By Mauro Santayana

The visit of U.S. vice-president Joe Biden to Brazil and the confirmation of a state visit by President Dilma Rousseff to the U.S. are indicators of a change in the level of U.S.-Brazil relations.

Traditionally averse to closer diplomatic ties with South America, the U.S. has suddenly realized the importance of Brazil in the region and the world. Among other things, this international presence explains Brazil’s recent victory in the WTO, overcoming the vote of 26 European nations and the U.S. itself.

Contemporary Brazil is, from any angle you look at it, a necessary partner in the region.

Mexico’s largest petrochemical project is being built by a Brazilian company.  A little to the East, in the Antilles, the new Port of Mariela, Cuba’s most important project, is being built by a Brazilian company, along with new facilities for Azcuba, the state-owned sugar producer, and various modernization projects in the sugar sector.  For Bolivia, the sale of Brazilian gas is vital: Bolivia exports 30 million cubic meters a day to its neighbor.

In Bolivia and Peru, Brazil is designing and building transoceanic highways and railways that will open up the Pacific ports and facilitate economic ties between the two halves of the continent.  In Peru, Brazilian companies are drilling tunnels in the Andes in order to bring water for irrigation to arid zones. In Paraguay, Brazil is financing and building a transmission line connecting Itaipu to Western Brazil. In Argentina, the most important project currently under discussion is the exploration of potassium reserves on the Rio Colorado, which will be built by a Brazilian company.

With the support of Spain and Mexico, the U.S. is trying to offset Brazil’s roll in Latin America with initiatives such as the Aliança do Pacífico.  This is a waste of effort, given that Brazil is already the principal Latin American commercial partner of all the nations involved. Besides, the Alliance cannot compete with Unasul of the não pode concorrer com a Unasul ou o com Conselho de Defesa da América do Sul (CDS), institutions in which Peru, Colombia and Chile are full members and share significant projects with Brazil, such as Embraer’s new military transport, the KC-390, or the development of river patrol boats for Amazônia.

Biden made a point of mentioning characteristics that reflect on Brazil’s role in the world, such as its status as seventh largest economy in the world, with a GDP greater than Russia and India, while omitting other characteristics, such as the fact that Brazil is the USA’s third-largest external creditor.

We should seek closer relations, a dialog of equals, with the U.S., without allowing ourselves to be seduced by their siren’s song. They have their interests and we, ours. They have Nafta, and we have Mercosul and the BRICS.

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