In a keynote address at the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo, Brazil, yesterday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke emphasized that the United States and Brazil can help each other compete in the global economy, asserting that "there are opportunities still being left on the table."
"It's time for the United States to treat our engagement with Brazil on economic issues as seriously as we do with nations like China and India," Locke said. Locke, who is in Brazil as part of President Obama's visit to Latin America, noted that the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum has added "an important private-sector voice to the discussion on growing trade and investment." In the latest forum meeting, this past Saturday, the CEOs pushed for a free-trade agreement between the United States and Brazil and agreed that the two countries should create incentives to attract U.S. companies to participate in Brazilian infrastructure projects. Those projects include the construction of transportation systems, upgrades to port and airport security systems and construction of facilities for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, which will be held in Brazil. "U.S. companies have the technological and engineering expertise to help with these endeavors, and can also be reliable suppliers for Brazilian companies," Locke said.
|U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (far right) visits Embraer's manufacturing facility outside Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday. Locke is in Brazil as part of President Obama's visit to Latin America.|
Locke highlighted green manufacturing and clean energy as opportunities "that allow both Brazil and the United States to tap into their considerable research and industrial strengths." He pointed to the launch of the U.S.-Brazil Green Economy Partnership as one of several examples of progress being made on cooperation between the two countries on this front. "Certainly, U.S. companies and the U.S. government have much we can learn from Brazil, which has the highest share of renewable energy generation of any large country in the world," Locke said. The infrastructure upgrades in advance of the Olympics "also will present Brazilian and U.S. companies with opportunities to supply event project developers with cutting-edge green and smart products, services and technologies," he said. 'Substantial Obstacles' Remain Locke urged the Brazilian government to "continue its efforts to build a business climate with more transparency and a more consistent regulatory environment." "The complexities of Brazil's business environment still create substantial obstacles for U.S. exporters and investors," he said. Those obstacles include high tariffs, a cumbersome customs system and "a heavy and unpredictable tax burden," Locke said. Asserting that "Brazil is on the rise, and the United States welcomes that rise," Locke noted that Brazil is the world's seventh-largest economy, and that the United States is the largest foreign investor in Brazil. "As Brazil has grown its economy and increased the prosperity of its people, the United States has been an enthusiastic partner," Locke said. Follow IndustryWeek senior editor Josh Cable on Twitter at