Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
Brasilia, Brazil
November 28, 2012

Boa Tarde ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you Mayor Villaraigosa for your leadership and dedication to the citizens of Los Angeles. We are excited to have the opportunity to join you today to discuss ways in which the U.S. Department of State can collaborate with your great city on international issues.

We are grateful that you and other ministers have taken the time to meet with us and to share your ideas on partnerships.

I am pleased to have been working with Ambassador Shannon and Carlos Abreau building subnational links between the U.S. and Brazil for the past three years. I look forward to meeting again with ItamaraCHI, the Minister of Sports, the Minister of Tourism, and SEPPIR’s Minister Bairros, as well as state level representatives over the next two days in Brasilia.

I am delighted to bring greetings from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to this distinguished delegation of Los Angeles business, trade and tourism officials.

Secretary Clinton sends best wishes to Mayor Villaraigosa as he leads this important trade mission, the first such trip by a sitting Los Angeles Mayor since 1985, to explore business and trade opportunities in strategically located markets in Brazil, Chile and Colombia. Secretary Clinton applauds your efforts to build partnerships in South America to increase investment, trade and tourism in Los Angeles.

As a past president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Villaraigosa is understands the challenges facing metropolitan America and is uniquely qualified to promote innovative solutions to grow in more productive, inclusive and sustainable ways.

Metropolitan areas are the heart of the American economy. Los Angeles clearly demonstrates how cities are the driving force of the economy, and how American competitiveness depends on their vitality.

Mayor Villaraigosa has stated that, “The future of Los Angeles is tied closely to our neighbors in South America,” and that “As we strengthen and build our local economies, we must leverage our assets in this global marketplace to create jobs here in Los Angeles.”

This point of view is directly in line with Secretary Clinton’s Economic Statecraft initiative which places local and national economic prosperity at the center of U.S. foreign policy. The Economic Statecraft agenda calls upon each of our embassies, bureaus, and offices to support economic development at home and abroad and to work with a broad spectrum and public and private sector partners.

The work of the Office of the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs is critical to this effort, as our work with elected officials at the state and local levels and their public and private stakeholders drives the formation of critical partnerships that support economic development and job creation.

My work in these areas is part of a broad, overall U.S. Government goal to work with Brazil and other nations to build up our economies through diplomatic ties, subnational relationships, and education partnerships.

Over the last few years, trade delegation consisting of U.S. and Brazilian governors, mayors, and local leaders have increased significantly. In addition to their trade and investment collaborations, subnational leaders have engaged in technical exchanges and shared best practices in order to address mutual challenges and to take advantage of shared opportunities, in such fields as education, innovation, sustainable development, and transportation.

In order to build upon their efforts, the U.S. Department of State, through the Office of the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, working with Ambassador Shannon’s U.S. Mission to Brazil, and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs is collaborating with states, municipalities, and other local governments to increase economic, cultural, innovation, and educational ties with Brazil.

In April of this year, Secretary Clinton and Brazilian Foreign Minister Patriota signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Support State and Local Cooperation. This agreement affirms our mutual resolve to strengthen and expand cooperation and encourage peer-to-peer exchanges between subnational officials and local populations. These exchanges further enable these local governments to bolster trade and investment, share ideas and best practices, and advance local priorities, while contributing to mutual understanding between our two countries.

In 2011, the United States and Brazil signed an MOU to foster cooperation and exchange best practices in advance of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Both countries agreed to collaborate in strategic planning, infrastructure, and commercial enterprise, while striving to eliminate racial, ethnic and gender discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for all.

In this agreement, we recalled our prior commitments from the Joint Action Plan to Promote Ethnic and Racial Equality (JAPER) and the MOU for the Advancement of Women.

Since the first of this year, I have traveled four times to Brazil and have visited 11 of the host cities and states of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. My travels and direct contact with the host government and local leaders have provided an excellent opportunity to bolster collaboration between local officials in Brazil and the United States.

Our collective objective is to share best practices to promote Afro-Brazilian entrepreneurs in Brazil, and to create partnerships and new jobs for ethnic minorities and Afro-Brazilians in preparation for the World Cup and Olympic and Paralympic Games. As host of past Olympic Games and other major global events, U.S. state and local governments have played a vital role. They are working to ensure that these events reflect inclusive economic opportunity practices.

This is why I have returned to Brazil this week with a group of experts in fields of sports and entertainment, the business of sports, public security, and urbanization to further explore collaboration in support of Brazil’s major sporting events.

Over the past year, we have seen the number of partnerships between U.S. and Brazilian subnational entities increase. For example, in September, Brazil’s Small Business Support Service formed a new partnership with the U.S. Association of Small Business Development Centers. Together these organizations represent about 1,800 local community centers that help our small businesses grow and create jobs. This cooperation is exactly what President Obama envisioned when he launched the Small Business Network of the Americas this April at the Summit of the Americas.

We expect this trend will continue as you and other U.S. local officials continue to reach out to their Brazilian counterparts.

Let me conclude by offering my best wishes to Mayor Villaraigosa and his delegation for a successful trade mission that will produce partnerships to create jobs and boost investment, trade and tourism in Los Angeles. We stand ready to assist and look forward to working with you.