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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Key Leaders in Brazil to Strengthen Bilateral, Commercial Relationship

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Key Leaders in Brazil to Strengthen Bilateral, Commercial Relationship

Locke highlights opportunities for increased trade and investment with President Obama’s National Export Initiative

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U.S.Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with key Brazilian leaders, American companies, and public and private sector co-chairs of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum today in Brasilia, Brazil. Locke discussed the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative and expressed hopes of broadening and deepening the U.S.-Brazil trade relationship to increase economic prosperity for both countries. He identified Brazil as a critical component in helping American businesses become more competitive abroad while supporting job creation here at home.

“Considering the size of our economies, our close proximity to each other and growing relationship, our bilateral trade should be much greater,” Locke told members of the American Chamber of Commerce Brazil at a roundtable discussion.

The United States enjoys a strong commercial relationship with Brazil, representing nearly $46.3 billion in bilateral goods and trade in 2009. U.S. merchandise exports to Brazil in 2009 were $26.2 billion, and Brazil is the United States’ 10th-largest export market. But the U.S. and Brazilian governments can do more to create a framework for businesses to succeed, Locke emphasized.

“The NEI, the CEO Forum, and the Commercial Dialogue are all ways the Commerce Department strives to increase exports, reduce trade barriers and address the needs of the business community,” he said. “However, we cannot do it without the business community. We need business leaders to be involved in the policy process; advocating for public private partnerships in Brazil and working with your counterparts to communicate with the Government of Brazil on policy and regulatory reform that will encourage increased trade and investment.”

Immediately following the roundtable, Locke reinforced the reason for his visit at a reception held at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon.

“Brazil is a country with which the United States has a long-standing and close relationship,” Locke said. “We want to continue building on that and to make it clear that Brazil is one of our most important hemispheric partners.”

Locke was joined in Brazil by Michael Froman, Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs at the White House; and Francisco Sanchez, Senior Advisor to the International Trade Administration. Froman is the U.S. Government co-chair of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum. Sanchez, along with the Director General of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service Suresh Kumar, will return to Brazil to join a delegation of 100 U.S. companies in São Paulo April 25-30 for Trade Winds Brazil, a U.S. Department of Commerce-organized event to promote more U.S. exports of products and services to the second largest market in the Western Hemisphere.

In addition to meeting with AmCham Brazil members and Brazilian government and private sector co-chairs of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, Locke met with the Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Miguel Jorge and the Minister of Mines and Energy Edison Lobão. He also attended a reception hosted by Ambassador Shannon for government and business leaders based in Brazil.

Established in 2007, the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum is made up of 20 CEOs from the U.S. and Brazil, and meets twice a year to make recommendations to the two governments on ways to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship. The U.S. CEOs serve two-year terms, and were selected from respondents to a joint Commerce-White House Federal Register Notice for applicants to the U.S. section of the Forum. The Forum’s recommendations have advanced discussions between the United States and Brazil governments on important issues such as visas, customs procedures, education and infrastructure reforms.

Last month, Locke unveiled details of the Export Initiative and outlined how it will help the country reach the president’s goal of doubling exports over the next five years, a target that will support two million U.S. jobs. The Export Initiative will provide more funding, more focus and more cabinet-level coordination to grow U.S. exports. The NEI represents the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his cabinet.