The Future of US-Brazil Economic Partnership

 When Brazil's President Lula visited Washington, D.C. in February 2023, he intended to "kickstart a new era of relations" with US President Joe Biden. He accomplished this by emphasizing that both countries were committed to maintaining freedom and addressing climate change. Anyway, after six months, ties between the US and Brazil have deteriorated. They disagree on how to deal with Russia's war in Ukraine and how to approach China.

What implications does the relationship between the United States and Brazil have for US.

foreign policy as it strives to widen its coalition beyond its traditional allies? How can these geopolitical gaps make it more difficult for the US and Brazil to work together on critical global concerns like climate change?

Chris Chivvis, Director of the Carnegie Endowment's American Statecraft Program, will address Washington's strategic options for its relationship with Brazil. He will be joined by Margaret Myers, head of the Asia & Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue, and Matias Spektor, professor and assistant dean at the Fundação Getulio Vargas' School of International Relations.

Chris Chivvis:
Thank you for traveling from Washington, D.C. This is Pivotal States, a series of conversations about America's strategic relationships with major foreign governments. My name is Chris Chivvis, and I oversee the Carnegie Endowment's initiative on American statecraft. Today we will talk about Brazil, which is an important country because of its size, democratic history, and role in climate change mitigation. One of the world's largest democracies, and the biggest in Latin America. It also has Latin America's largest economy and a plethora of natural resources that the US and China may want to battle over.

Brazil also accounts for more than half of the massive Amazon jungle. The survival of this rainforest is essential for lowering global carbon emissions. Given Brazil's growing importance in the region and around the world, some claim that the relationship between the US and Brazil has not grown as much as it should. However, in the past, Brazil supported a foreign policy that was not tied to any specific organization. They also support the notion that global politics are becoming more multipolar.

The BRICS Group consists of five countries: Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa.

So it's no surprise that the relationship between the United States and Brazil has altered considerably in recent years. As president, Jair Bolsonaro built strong ties between Brazil and the Trump administration. In fact, he did so well that some called him "Tropical Trump." However, the tighter alignment put a pressure on Brazil's democracy. When Vice President Joe Biden took office in the United States, he refused to continue working with Bolsonaro. If Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, also known as Lula, had won the 2022 election over Bolsonaro, the US and Brazil might have collaborated more closely.

Lula visited Washington, D.C. in February of this year, and the two presidents committed to work together to improve democracy, human rights, and the environment. It appeared to be a positive step forward in the relationship, but Lula's decision to travel to China to meet with President Xi and advocate for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine conflict enraged the White House and prompted some Washington critics to question how much room there was to strengthen ties between the two nations.

Today on Pivotal States, we'll talk about it all. What will happen to this crucial partnership between two countries? What are the potential consequences for the United States if things go wrong? What is the best way for Washington to approach President Lula's foreign policy? Is it conceivable to build a mutually beneficial relationship, notwithstanding Brazil's determination to maintain its historic foreign policy independence?

Two of the world's most knowledgeable on US-Brazil ties have joined me this morning to debate this. Margaret Myers is a Georgetown University professor who also leads the Inter-American Dialogue's Asia and Latin America programs. She used to work in the Pentagon. He teaches international affairs at FGV in São Paulo and, like me, is a Carnegie Endowment non-resident scholar. Thank you for attending.

Dear Margaret Myers.

First, Chris, thank you for the invitation. That is a fantastic question. There are various reasons why Brazil is important in general, many of which you stated. Simply put, it is South America's largest country. It accounts for nearly half of the continent's people and land. It accounts for about 40% of Latin America's GDP and, as you indicated, has a considerable political impact. Yes, in the UN, but mostly through the BRICS group, where it has advocated for a far stronger role for the global south, with China, in overhauling the current global order.

It also has a skilled foreign service that has conducted peacekeeping missions throughout the area and beyond. In actuality, Brazil's President Lula brought the Haiti issue to the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, which demanded it. The United States and other countries haven't paid it enough attention. And, while Lula was president, Brazil became embroiled in the Russia-Ukraine conflict because he wants Brazil to play a bigger role in the world. He saw Brazil as a potential peacemaker, but he also said some controversial things about the war, occasionally siding with Russia.

Also, Chris, you claimed that the majority of the Amazon, known as the "lungs of the world," is located in Brazil. This establishes it as a key participant in the fight against climate change. As a result of all of this, Brazil affects both US domestic and global interests. This is owing to its significance as a major economic partner and source of Latin American students and workers in the United States. There are also substantial long-standing ties between people in both countries.

It is also critical for the Biden administration to see how a democracy operates in Brazil, despite the fact that both countries have lately had difficulties. With this in mind, the United States has expressed strong support for Brazil's democratic institutions and election outcomes. To address your question, I believe that people in Washington observe Brazil from several angles. On the one hand, as a key participant and potential collaborator, notably in the fight against climate change and for democratic values. On the other hand, as a potential major hindrance to US efforts to maintain the international order, such as in Russia and Ukraine, as well as when Brazil and other countries challenge US supremacy, including that of the US dollar, which has recently received a lot of attention.


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