How the U.S. and Brazil Can Strengthen Their Economies and Partnership

To continue to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil relationship and their economies, both countries must focus on deforestation, tourism, and bilateral investments.


Air Date: October 26, 2021

Moderator: Cassia Carvalho, Executive Director, Brazil-U.S. Business Council, Renata Brandão Vasconcellos, Executive Director, U.S.-Cuba Business Council, Anne McKinney, Vice President, Americas, Neil Herrington, Senior Vice President, Americas

Featured Guests: Dr. Alyssa Lovegrove, Academic Director, Georgetown University, Amanda Hall, Campaign Director, Dream Corps JUSTICE, Genevieve Martin, Executive Director, Dave's Killer Bread Foundation, Nisha Anand, CEO, Dream Corps, Beth Davisson, SVP, Kentucky Chamber Foundation

Brazil continues to be one of the United States’ top foreign partners. During the past year, the two nations have had positive engagement within their business communities that has created a strong economic partnership.

Looking ahead, both countries are seeking ways to achieve their mutual economic, environmental, and societal goals together. At the 2021 U.S.-Brazil Connect Summit from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, business and political leaders from both nations outlined strategies and initiatives that can further strengthen the U.S.-Brazil relationship and our economies.

President Bolsonaro Looks to Strengthen the U.S.-Brazil Relationship

Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, gave a keynote address outlining Brazil's current economic success and an intention to promote trade and investment with the United States. This year, Brazil has seen 5% economic growth, despite the slowdown of the economy from the pandemic, indicating a fruitful future for both countries.

“With no other industrialized nation do we maintain such a diverse and multifaceted trade relationship,” said President Bolsonaro. “The maturity of our bilateral relationship has paved the way for the foundation of our legal framework.”

The Private Sector Must Do Its Part to Stop Deforestation

One of the priorities for the United States in working with Brazil is reducing the deforestation rate. However, according to Nestor Forster, Brazilian ambassador to the United States, the government can only do so much — in order to make a true impact, the private sector needs to do its part, too.

“We need the private sector on board,” said Forster. “It has a crucial role to play in ... terms of finance, but in the case of Brazil, also in terms of conservation. About half of [natural preservation] is [the] government. The other half is the private sector following our legislation, [which] requires whoever is investing … [in an] agricultural project or a forestry project ... to preserve a certain amount of the native vegetation.”

Increased Tourism to Brazil Requires a Different Approach to Tax Issues

As both the U.S. and Brazil recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, both countries are prioritizing the growth of Brazil’s dynamic tourism industry. For instance, Donna Hrinak, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Royal Caribbean Group, believes reinstating Brazil as a global cruise destination would boost its overall tourism revenue.

“We would love to be back in Brazil, particularly once we get beyond COVID, because we do see lots of potential, not just for people from the States, but for Europeans to visit Brazil,” said Hrinak. “It's not just … port cities. There are cruises that obviously dock at the port and then take people inland so you can visit sites that people never expected to be able to see on a cruise.”

However, Hrinak noted there are some tax obstacles that must be overcome to open up the door to these tourism opportunities.

“A lot of people have said that the biggest problem in generating more tourism from the U.S. to Brazil is the Caribbean, but if you're on a cruise ship, that's not necessarily the case,” she said. “It's not easy, for the same reasons that so many companies aren’t able to expand their business in Brazil.”

“We have not operated in Brazil for 10 years, but we still have three lawyers working in Brazil sending labor disputes, [and] we still have tax issues,” added Hrinak. “We're still paying the cost.”

Bilateral Investment Is a Positive Element of the U.S.-Brazil Relationship

Over the past year, the United States and Brazil have had bilateral investments that have benefited both countries. Leaders of both nations are looking to expand these agreements and treaties to ensure continued economic flourishment.

“The current … Brazilian-owned investment in the United States stands at more than $44 billion,” said Dale Tasharski, acting director-general and assistant secretary for Global Markets at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “[Bilateral investment] also supports more than 95,000 American jobs across a range of industries. These companies support our dynamic or their competitive jobs, and they're spread across the United States in different areas, like aerospace, IT, professional services, and manufacturing.”