US, Brazil clinch ties as Rousseff visits Washington

Brazil and US hold high level talks in order to repair ties as Brazilian President Rousseff visits Washington in wake of spying scandal which strained bilateral relations couple of years ago

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The US President Barack Obama hosted his Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff in the White House on Tuesday as the parties have been seeking to mend mutual relations following the recent spying scandal that soared tension between Brasilia and Washington.

Obama underlined the significance of Brazil for America’s relations with Latin America when he said the country has been occupying a “cornerstone” in the region, while Rousseff stated that the mutual relationship was on an "upward trajectory" and described the talks at the White House as “fruitful”.

"I believe that this visit marks one more step in a new more ambitious chapter in the relations between our countries," Obama said. "We are focused on the future." he added.

Obama described the US and Brazil as “natural partners” and hailed Brazil as not just a regional player, but as a "global power," as well as praising Rousseff as a "reliable partner” during the leaders’ joint press conference.

Rousseff’s visit to Washington came nearly two years after its actual schedule in October 2013 when the former National Security agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the United States had spied on Rousseff and other Brazilians.

Rousseff had then skipped the planned trip to the US protesting Washington upon the NSA’s eavesdropping on her communications.

"Some things have changed... I believe President Obama," Rousseff said when asked about Obama’s assurances that the  US would no longer spy on leaders in allied countries.

"He has told me that, should he ever need non-public information about Brazil, he would just pick up the phone and call me." she added.

However, Obama further pledged that the parties will resume cooperation on cyber security within a planned meeting in Brasilia in order to rebuild trust in the regional diplomacy.

The planned meeting will cover "e-government, the digital economy, cyber security, cybercrime prevention," the White House statement noted.

Obama-Rousseff meeting also focused on bolstering commercial ties and collaboration on climate change and renewable energies between the two countries which have the largest economies in the American continent.

The parties have agreed on reciprocally lifting visas as of next year and reopening fresh beef trade which is deemed as a significant transaction cost for Brazil in its trade with the US.

Obama and Rousseff have pledged that they would produce 20 percent of domestic electricity from non-hydropower renewable sources by 2030 as the leaders "committed to reaching an ambitious global climate treaty.”

"These are very ambitious goals, a near tripling for the United States and more than double Brazil's current output," Obama said.

Meanwhile, Rousseff invited US companies to take part inside Brazil’s recently launched $64 billion worth infrastructure projects.

The plan, dubbed PIL 2 aims to revitalize the world's seventh-largest and Latin America’s biggest economy, to bring back Rousseff’s eroding popularity.

Rousseff's popularity has recently decreased mostly due to declining economic growth and hikes in unemployment rate and inflation, while she was accused of a corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras since last year when she was reelected for a second term.

Brazil’s economy seems to have been experiencing recession after a quarter century of growth which declined to just 0.1 percent last year.

The Brazilian government forecasts a 1.2 percent growth in 2015 despite the fact that the country had already organised the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and will organise the Olympic Games next year in Rio de Janeiro.

TRTWorld and agencies