Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
June 14, 2012

Date: 06/14/2012 Description: Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs Reta Jo Lewis during her visit to ACMinas in Brazil. - State Dept Image I’m glad to be seeing some familiar faces here, and pleased to see so many new ones. This is such a testament to the importance of the U.S.-Brazil Partnership overall as well as the commitment that the United States and Brazil have made to support and increase state and local engagement in so many dimensions. The economic dimension of our relationship is growing increasingly important, both nationally, subnationally, and indeed to the region and the world.

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. 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, as you know, this partnership is already incredibly beneficial to both countries, and I thank ACMinas for working to strengthen economic ties. But I’m here to talk about how we can do more. I believe that the opportunities and potential for greater investment, trade, growth, and jobs is only now being tapped.

You understand that doing business in foreign countries requires support and a structure for building relationships with governments at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as the private sector. So I want to highlight how instrumental local business organizations like ACMinas are in maintaining the relationships among the private sector and the Brazilian and U.S. Governments.

But I must note that 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.

We’re updating America’s foreign policy priorities to ensure that what we prioritize reflects the growing importance of economic power and economic cooperation.

  • America is open for business.

- America is open for business. We are doing everything we can to promote growth of U.S. business abroad, to encourage foreign businesses to invest and create jobs here, and to welcome visitors to our country.

- With the National Export Initiative, President Obama set a goal of doubling America’s exports over five years. We expect to hit that target ahead of schedule, thanks in large measure to our new free trade agreements; the hard work of our people; and, of course, the American business community.

- Through SelectUSA, we are encouraging companies from other countries to consider the U.S. market when looking to expand into other economies.

- Through the new travel and tourism initiative, we are improving the visa process and making it easier for people from around the world to come to the United States.

- We also recognize that businesses face a host of new, behind-the-border barriers, such as IP theft and requirements that force companies to transfer technology and source supplies locally. These barriers hurt companies and customers from the United States and from around the world. That’s why the United States is making it a central diplomatic priority to level the playing field by promoting an open, free, transparent and fair economic system around the world.

  • Economics are at the forefront of determining our foreign policy priorities.

- We’re updating America’s foreign policy priorities to ensure that what we prioritize reflects the growing importance of economic power and economic cooperation.

- We are collaborating around the globe on shared economic interests and we are addressing new challenges at the nexus of markets and diplomacy, such as commodity security and state capitalism.

  • We’re developing economic solutions for our toughest strategic challenges.

- Mindful that many of our greatest security challenges depend substantially on economic variables, we’re increasingly turning to economic solutions to promote the security of the United States and our allies and partners. Examples include trade and economic tools we have used to support transitions in the Middle East and North Africa, and our diplomatic work to attract private investment to create a New Silk Road in Central Asia.

- Fusing economics and foreign policy in this way is at the core of what Secretary Clinton has described as “smart power.”

  • Our people are America’s economic front line.

- We are working to equip all of our talent — whether foreign service, civil service, and locally engaged staff, based in Washington or in the field — with the tools, training, and incentives needed to deliver on this agenda.

- Our network of diplomats are working every day in almost every country in the world to promote these objectives and create American jobs. They are looking forward to interacting with you today – and every day.