Diana Villiers Negroponte – Brookings, 08/19/2013
The Secretary of State was the target of a public drubbing in Brazil. Kerry had been warned beforehand that Brazilian criticism of the NSA program would be public and fierce. There is no equivalent national program to collect information in Brazil, and for a nation which still recalls authoritarian ways of the military rule, intelligence gathering holds strong negative connotations. Two days after Secretary Kerry’s visit, President Rousseff’s government announced that it is considering measures to make it a crime for people to read other’s email messages without their consent. The sensitivity of intelligence gathering remained an issue throughout Kerry’s visit, but other important subjects were discussed in the context of President Rousseff’s forthcoming state visit to the United States on October 23. What might we expect in these bilateral discussions?
The U.S. and Brazil have a growing trade and investment ties. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from a negative trade balance of $1.4 billion in 2007, U.S. exports to Brazil have grown from $24.2 to $43.8 billion in 2012. Imports have also grown, but the balance is now in the U.S. favor at $11.7 billion. Much of this trade is in complementary goods making two-way trade positive for both countries. However, according to the Financial Times, Brazil’s trade with the Europe Union (EU) rose by 195% between 2000 and 2010 to $98 billion, and Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota talks of a ‘fast tracked’ free trade agreement with the EU. Brazil sees greater opportunity for growth with the European market. Meantime, there is no talk of a trade agreement with the United States.
However, opportunities exist within the bilateral Strategic Energy Dialogue to deepen cooperation on biofuels, renewable energy and energy efficiency, the smart grid, as well as an initiative for oil and gas development and nuclear power. Although the U.S. Department of Energy is responsible for this dialogue, Secretary Kerry expressed his hope that in September’s bilateral meeting, both the U.S. and Brazilian private sectors might find a place at the table to discuss the development of joint projects. Scope exists for the electrical utility companies in both countries to work together in developing energy efficiency techniques and electrical transmission.