Common Threads: What Links Brazil and the U.S.?

The project will next shift its focus to a study of fair and equitable trade in Brazil, with a second forum scheduled for December 2018.Relations between Brazil and the United States have been rocky during the past year. Following Edward Snowden's revelation of information about US spying in Brazil, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed her official visit to the White House, which was set for October 2013. After the presidential visit was postponed, bilateral negotiations between the United States and Brazil on a number of crucial topics stalled or ceased altogether. President Rousseff responded to the Snowden revelations by criticizing the NSA's global spying efforts at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in October 2013, and Brazil collaborated with Germany at the UN to advocate for limits on US monitoring measures. Some commentators also linked Brazil's choice to award a contract for sophisticated fighter aircraft to Swedish Saab rather than Boeing, citing the Snowden revelations.

The EU and Brazil's import limitations.

Brazil's growing influence in global governance raises two critical and linked challenges for US policymakers to examine. Is Brazil likely to adjust its views on the international order sufficiently so that the two countries may find common ground on which to collaborate? Should the US assist Brazil to fully develop its military and economic capabilities so that it can better contribute to global order?

However, it is critical to look past the immediate issues and contemplate how to influence the future of this partnership. 

Democratization of Foreign Policy May Lead to Common Ground
Brazil and the EU are discussing a free trade pact as members of the Mercosur group.
A prospective EU-Mercosur Association Agreement should improve trade integration among Mercosur countries and open up new prospects for trade and investment with the EU by removing tariff and non-tariff obstacles to trade and FDI.
Despite the fact that Mercosur remains a highly protected market, a 2008 sustainability impact assessment found that the potential economic impact is significant.

What is the role of the United States?

The United States should also think about the shadow of the future. Brazil's objectives and trajectory have long been known, as shown in my recent paper, Brazil's Rise: Seeking Influence on Global Governance. We can track this trajectory forward in time and observe when Brazil will become a fully fledged big power. Some Americans who are critical of Brazil's current foreign policy see little incentive for the two countries to strengthen ties. However, disengaging from Brazil as it grows will simply widen the gap between the United States and one of the few growing nations whose inhabitants share many of the same values as Americans. If the United States intends to cooperate with Brazil as it grows into a significant power, it is in the country's best interests to encourage Brazil to commit more completely to strengthening its military and economic capacities to support global order, as it has done with allies in Europe and Northeast Asia.
There are still many positive aspects to Brazil-US relations. Trade and economic links remain robust, and the Brazilian government continues to fund scholarships for thousands of young Brazilians to pursue educational possibilities in the United States. In addition, Brazil should consider making some changes to its international strategy in order to solidify its position as a significant power. Expanding Brazil's position in international peacekeeping and development assistance, as well as exploring areas of agreement with the United States on global governance, would help Brazil's rise. These would also serve as a foundation for bilateral collaboration between Brazil and the United States. It may be unrealistic to expect significant change before Brazil's presidential elections in October 2014, but bilateral ties should be prioritized by both countries in 2015.


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