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Obama, Rousseff Tout Strong Brazil-U.S. Relations


In an official visit to Washington Monday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff touted the strength of her country's bilateral relationship with the U.S.

At a meeting with President Barack Obama, the full range of bilateral, regional, and multilateral issues were discussed, including trade, tourism, international organization cooperation and government transparency.

Sitting with Rousseff and press in the Oval Office around midday, Obama emphasized U.S.-Brazilian trade was "reaching record levels," a fact confirmed by experts.

"The Brazilian economy is highly interdependent with the American economy," Matias Spektor of the Getulio Vargas Foundation recently told the Council on Foreign Relations.

"US exports to Brazil have doubled in size in recent years. Brazil is the fourth-largest creditor of the United States."

At the meeting, the two Presidents announced high-level meetings on these key economic issues would continue this year.

Obama said the President's Export Council would travel to Brazil in September while President Rousseff said high-level sectoral trade missions to the U.S. would be organized in areas such as foodservice, information technology, health and machinery.

The Presidents also reviewed the implementation of measures to facilitate the flow of tourists and business executives between the two countries.

The U.S. is looking at incentives for adding Brazil to the Visa Waiver Program. According the U.S. Travel Association, Brazilians spent $5.9 billion in the United States in 2010, more than visitors from any other nation. And this number will only continue to grow, experts say.

President Obama also re-emphasized his desire to accelerate visa processing times for Brazilian citizens this year by 40 percent. He also said he wanted to move forward with the Department of State's intent to open new consulates in Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre.

Touching on a contentious issue between the two nations, the White House sent out a press release Monday in which President Obama "reaffirmed his appreciation for Brazil's aspiration to become a permanent member of the Security Council."

The U.S., which has been heavily lobbied by Brazil and other emerging nations, threw its support behind a permanent seat for India two years ago.

In the joint statement released today, the Presidents concurred the UNSC needs to be reformed, and expressed their support for a modest expansion of the membership that improves its effectiveness, efficiency and representativeness.

Both Presidents also reaffirmed their commitment to transparency and rule of law. The Presidents acknowledged citizen engagement is a key to achieving this end and to strengthening democracy, human rights, and good governance and preventing corruption.

Despite Brazil's dismal 3.7 rating out of 10 rating from
Transparency International's Corruption Index - a rating of one denoting "highly corrupt" - there is still a ray of hope that Brazil's new president will bring reform to governmental practices.

"The good news is that the relationship between Brazil and the United States has never been stronger, but we always have even greater improvements that can be made," President Obama said during the Oval Office presser.

"And I feel very fortunate to have such a capable and farsighted partner as President Rousseff."

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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