Obama to boost trade in first South America tour as China looms

Randy Woods, Helen Murphy – Bloomberg, 01/26/2011

President Barack Obama will seek to establish strong ties with Brazil’s fledgling government and reassert commercial leadership in South America after losing ground to China when he makes his first visit to the region.

Obama, in his State of the Union Address last night, announced he will visit Brazil, Chile and El Salvador in March “to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas.” During the visit he’ll seek to win support for closer economic ties, especially with Brazil in energy, as competitors like China increase investment and trade with the resource-rich region, said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue.

“There’s a very keen awareness in Washington that China is a major trading partner now of Brazil, Chile and Peru,” Shifter said in an interview from Washington. “There’s a sense the U.S. is missing that opportunity.”

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