US President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff must move beyond the usual modestly targeted working groups to outline an ambitious path forward based on a common political and economic agenda, says a new Atlantic Council report that launched today.  The Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center’s report, titled US-Brazil Relations: A New Beginning? How to Strengthen the Bilateral Agenda.

”The visit cannot be a mere relationship reset following the 2013 documents leaked by Edward Snowden pointing to US spying on Brazilian officials. It is time for both sides to compromise longstanding differences in order to formulate an ambitious agenda for years to come.  We’ve outlined a road to do that in our paper,” said Peter Schechter, Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

The report launched today at an event with US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, who previewed Rousseff’s visit. As a member of the Obama administration team who will be working with Brazilian counterparts on the visit, Jacobson commented, “For the United States and for Brazil, this visit really is critical, but I also think of this entire year in a way as the year of the US and Brazil. For us, this is the beginning in a real way of a new chapter in our relationship.”

The Council’s Nonresident Senior Brazil Fellow and renowned Brazilian foreign policy expert Ricardo Sennes authored this comprehensive analysis of the imperative for expanded US-Brazil cooperation. The report states that the United States has much to gain from improved relations. Strengthening economic, trade, and investment ties is critical to regaining its position and further tapping into the $2.2 trillion Brazilian economy. The report outlines five key recommendations to secure the future of a cooperative US-Brazil relationship:

1.      Support investment competiveness by implementing a double taxation agreement.

2.      Eliminate trade barriers starting with facilitating trade in services and opening the doors to greater collaborating on clean energy and technology trade.

3.      Prioritize collaboration on technology and innovation by incentivizing dual-use technologies and scientific cooperation.

4.      Bolster technology cooperation and new investments in education

5.      Define a cornerstone political agreement that serves as the bedrock of the relationship. 

“Brazil is the second largest economy in the Western Hemisphere and the seventh in the world yet US-Brazilian ties have never lived up to expectations,” said Peter Schechter. “The disappointments reverberate around the hemisphere. Both Presidents Obama and Rousseff must engage in a way that will benefit Brazil’s current domestic situation and the United States’ standing in Latin America,” said Schechter. 

“The recent US-Cuba opening has earned the United States significant political capital in the region. However, for the positive pace to continue, President Obama must capitalize on this visit by striking new agreements that concretely show the special value of the US-Brazil relationship,” said Jason Marczak, Deputy Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. “The two countries share much history and shared values, and, despite 2013’s headlines, have few major disagreements,” said Marczak.

“This visit comes at a tenuous moment in Brazilian politics. Brazilians have flocked to the streets in protest in recent months calling for change. President Rousseff needs to come home with one or two announcements from the visit to show that she can deliver economic ‘wins,’” said Marczak.

Marczak continued, “Unlike NAFTA with Mexico and nuclear cooperation with India, the two countries lack a cornerstone political agreement to anchor continued progress. A climate change agreement – similar to the one unveiled with China a few months ago — may be announced on the 30th.” 

The full discussion, as well as the report, is available online here.