And I am so pleased that I could be here only one week after some of you were in Washington at the event that was held there for businesses and the very successful visit of President Dilma Rousseff to Washington with President Obama. I see some faces that I saw in the crowd at the American Chamber of Commerce when I addressed you just a week ago, which is no surprise to me, because this is such a critical partnership in so many dimensions. And the economic dimension is growing increasingly important, not only to the two countries that are represented here, but indeed to the region and the world.
As many of you know, last year, trade between Brazil and the United States reached nearly $75 billion, much of that in sectors that are driving innovation and creating jobs in both our countries. And Brazilian investment in the United States has grown considerably in recent years, now standing at 15.5 billion, making it one of the largest sources of investment from Latin America.
So this partnership is already benefitting both countries, and I thank the National Confederation of Industry and our co-hosts from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for working to strengthen economic ties. But I’m here because I think we can do so much more. I believe that the opportunities and potential for greater investment, trade, growth, and jobs is only now being tapped.
I was delighted this morning to meet with Gracas Foster, the head of Petrobras, to talk about the exciting future that lies ahead of Brazil because of the extraordinary reserves on your coastline. And this opportunity carries with it a lot of responsibility, which she is shouldering. Of course, for me, it’s exciting to be in a country where the head of your government and the head of your oil company are both led by such visionary, hard-working leaders who happen to be women. That’s a good – another good way in which Brazil is leading.
It was 96 years ago today – this very day – that the U.S. Chamber opened its doors in Brazil. American companies like General Electric were just beginning to explore markets beyond America’s border. And those industrial pioneers knew that doing business in foreign countries required support and a structure for building relationships with governments and the private sector. What was true then is true today. CNI and AmCham are both instrumental in maintaining the relationships among the private sector and the Brazilian and U.S. Governments.
But a lot has changed in 96 years. Economic issues have become even more central to our engagement with other countries. And increasingly, a goal of U.S. foreign policy is to drive economic growth; drive it for ourselves, of course, but drive it regionally and globally. We call that economic statecraft. How do we create conditions for open and fair economic activity among countries so every country, and even every individual, has a chance to compete?
Now, of course, a country’s economic strength in turn shapes its foreign policy and, more broadly, its role in the world. If our economies are prosperous and dynamic, we are able to invest more resources in our own people. We’re also able to be good stewards of the global economy, and the whole idea of a global economic order based on the rule of law and transparency and fair and open competition advances.
Now certainly the United States and Brazil understand the complex entanglement of all these issues. What happens to one of us affects every other country in the Americas. And as the hemisphere’s two largest democracies, we understand that our values must guide the way we exercise economic power. A vibrant private sector and strong economic ties with our partners are good for business, but also good for our people.
I think one of the reasons Brazil is so widely admired in the world today is not just because you are getting richer, which you are, not just because you’re growing a middle class, which you are, but because you have committed to lifting Brazilians out of poverty, because you are opening doors of opportunity for children – no matter who their parents, no matter where they’re from – to have the same chance that every other child in Brazil would have.
Now, I often describe a successful society as being like a three-legged stool. One leg has to be responsible, accountable, inclusive government. One has to be a strong, well-functioning private sector, essential for creating wealth and jobs to grow the economy. And the third leg has to be a robust civil society that speaks out for those who can’t speak for themselves, who speak for not only people living in poverty, who are victims of discrimination or lack of education or healthcare, but also speak out for the environment, which we have all inherited, and to help hold government and business accountable when their rights are being ignored.
Now, if those three legs are out of balance, the stool can’t stand up. If any leg is weak – if government is corrupt, if civil society is stifled, if the private sector is irresponsible – the stool will collapse.
Brazil’s success story is a model of three strong legs and a very strong stool, fair and balanced, a strong economy translating into shared prosperities. Brazil has ascended to the world stage as an emerging economic dynamo, lifting millions of Brazilians into the middle class while maintaining and improving democratic institutions.
But for either of our countries, there is no guarantee that progress or prosperity will continue. It is our job to answer this question: In a time of economic uncertainty and a constantly changing global marketplace, how do we maintain economic momentum and growth that fuels inclusive sustainable prosperity in both our countries?
Well, a big part of the answer is innovation. That’s why Brazil and the United States are making innovation a key element of our bilateral relationship. That was highlighted during President Rousseff’s trip to Washington last week. And we are putting these words and these aspirations into actions.
For example, in January of this year, Microsoft opened a new technology and innovation center in Brazil, its largest in Latin America, as an incubator for new ideas, where students, NGO leaders, entrepreneurs can access cutting-edge technology. One of the first projects to spring from this facility is new software that transforms spoken words into sign language.
Meanwhile, Boeing is partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank and Embraer to develop a sustainable supply chain of biofuels for aviation. And this project will establish a research and development center where teams will go work to develop a cost-effective way to convert sugarcane into airplane fuel. I don’t need to tell you that Brazil is at the forefront of biofuels, and what you have done over 30-plus years now to produce sugarcane ethanol into manmade use has been extraordinary. But now we want to tackle the problem of aviation fuel together and see what we can do.
Cisco is investing half a billion dollars here over the next three years to create a center focused on IT entrepreneurship. Cisco and its partners will work with startups to develop and manufacture technology to support efforts in urban development, public safety, education, and health.
So the American companies seeking to expand in Brazil are investing the research and development that will underpin the 21st century economy. And our two governments are eager to see these efforts succeed. Now the government won’t pick winners or losers, and government cannot do the innovation and the technological development that the private sector must do, but governments can work closely with business leaders to create the conditions where these ideas can take hold.
Just last month, the third Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology took place here in Brasilia. Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation Marco Antonio Raupp and Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor, met with private sector representatives to discuss how we can better foster innovation and competitiveness. And later this year, I will send an innovation delegation to Brazil made up of some of our top entrepreneurs, educators, and tech leaders to meet with their Brazilian counterparts to discuss how we can support a thriving innovation ecosystem here in Brazil.
We consider private sector innovation so important because the knowledge and technology developed are not only good for a company’s bottom line, they help us meet the challenges of our time: clean energy development, urban renewal, food security, efficient and effective governance. So when companies move forward with kind of innovative new initiatives I’m describing, they’re doing more than creating jobs; they are helping to create the economy of the future. We’re also working together about how to promote sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. We’re working together in counternarcotics enforcement. So we have a lot on our agendas.
One of the most exciting efforts was a partnership between the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, and IBM. Mayor Paes saw that the city’s 30 separate government agencies didn’t have a way to communicate and share information efficiently. That is a problem for every government, I will confess. But he knew that poor coordination was wasteful and hindered the efficient use of government resources to serve people. So he worked with an IBM, a unit called “Smarter Cities,” to develop a first of its kind ever operations center. Now data from all those agencies is compiled and stored in one place. This is obviously a very promising new venture for IBM that we expect to see replicated around the world, but is also helping Rio prepare for the World Cup and the Olympics and operate in a smarter, effective way.
Now, the difference between a great idea that stays an idea and one that’s actually implemented and yields results has a lot to do with people-to-people ties. And we need to do more to foster connections between the people of Brazil and the United States so we can all find more ways to work together and to seek common ground and common solutions. So we’re excited by the programs we are setting up to encourage more student exchanges.
President Rousseff has launched her Science without Borders initiative to send 100,000 Brazilian students abroad to study science and technology in foreign universities, and many will come to the United States during the next four years. She visited Harvard and MIT during her time in the U.S. last week, and we cannot wait to welcome Brazil’s future scientists to our country. President Obama has announced a similar effort to send 100,000 U.S. students to universities in Latin America, including in Brazil.
But this effort needs to go beyond student exchanges. There are 50 million at-risk young people across Latin America and the Caribbean who don’t have the training or education they will need to compete in a modern economy. To that end, the United States is investing in the New Employment Opportunities Partnership. And the International Youth Foundation is working with private sector partners – including Microsoft, Walmart, Caterpillar, and others – to launch a series of hiring and mentoring projects across Latin America. This initiative aims to train 1 million disadvantaged youth across the region during the next 10 years.
We were just at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, and one of the common concerns expressed by leaders, particularly the fast-growing economies in Latin America, is that there are jobs in all of our countries, including the United States. But there are not often the people where the jobs are to fill the jobs. They don’t have the skills, they’re not in the right geographic location. So when you have all these companies advertising more engineers and technicians and other skilled workers and the jobs are not being filled and yet our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, that’s a problem throughout our hemisphere. And so we have to be smart about how we bridge those gaps so that companies can get the employees you need in a timely way.
We’re also happy to see travel increasing between our two countries. I see a lot of Brazilian tourists on the street when I’m in New York, and it looks like everybody’s having a good time. (Laughter.) Well, how could you not in New York? But Brazilian tourists spent nearly $7 billion on travel and tourism-related goods in the U.S. last year. That’s a rise of nearly 150 percent since 2009. Now we want to see more tourism, and we want to see the efficiency of our processing tourists increase, so President Obama and I will work together to increase our capacity to process visas from the two countries where demand is highest – Brazil and China. And we are opening new American consulates in two states. One governor is here. We’re expanding the flights between Brazil and the United States to make sure our airlines can keep up with demand. So we are very excited about what this can offer.
So as I look at where we stand in our new, more durable, stronger, deeper relationship, I know we’ve got to keep exploring new avenues for growth, but we also have to solve some of the problems that were mentioned. We need to redouble our efforts to conclude a double taxation treaty. We need to explore a bilateral investment treaty. We need to consider in the future free trade agreements. We need to look at how the United States and Brazil can anchor economic growth and democratic values not only for the region, but around the world.
We all know there is competition and comparison going on. There are those, who work for some countries, who say it would be much more efficient if you didn’t have democracies, if you just made a decision from the top down, and boy would we grow, everybody get out of our way. Well, I think Brazil and the U.S. have it right. As challenging as democracy can be – and we’ve been at this a very long time, and we know how difficult improving and perfecting democracy is – can you imagine our two countries with our diverse populations, with our tendency for people to speak their minds, thinking that we can do anything other than keep focused on democracy? And I think we’ve done pretty well, so I think we can have our own case to date that our economic growth, rooted in democracy and our values, will certainly withstand whatever might come in the future. And we will look for ways to send those messages to other countries in our work, for example, to support development in Africa.
So for me, it’s a great pleasure to be here to reiterate the messages of friendship and partnership that our two presidents conveyed last Monday, to once again highlight the strong economic partnership and business-to-business relationship between our two countries. I am certainly committed to making sure that the private sector plays an important role in the future as we develop even greater ties, and I thank all of you for being part of a standing – this essential partnership. It’s good for Brazil, it’s good for the United States, it’s good for Latin America and our hemisphere, and I think it’s good for the world.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)