Two years after she was supposed to travel on an official state visit to the United States, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff is finally coming after all. While officials offered to let her reschedule the more formal state visit for next year, she opted for a smaller affair this month.
But will anything actually come out of this visit? Or will it end in fluffy memorandums of understanding?
The press isn't particularly hopeful. "Biggest success of upcoming visit by Brazil's Rousseff is it's happening," reads one headline.
One issue is that even when the two countries have inked major bilateral agreements, they sometimes take years to approve - or haven't even been approved yet. Last week, Brazil's lower house OKed a 2010 defense accord; the Senate approved it just days before the president left for the U.S. A 2011 aviation agreement that would eliminate a cap on flights between the two countries hasn't even been sent to Brazil's legislature.
Another issue is that the Brazilian government is focused on the economy and ways to drive investment. The U.S. government could play a role, but so could private investors that Rousseff will meet in New York and San Francisco.
Finally, one of the biggest agreements that Brazilians would want--eliminating tourist visas--is unlikely to happen soon, even though Brazilian officials reportedly plan to bring it to the table. Brazil has to meet a number of requirements before the U.S. will begin the process, and that could be even less likely during an economic downturn.
Nevertheless, some see the visit as a way to rekindle U.S.-Brazil ties and get the relationship back on track. So in an ideal world, what are some of the things you'd like to see the two countries do in the near future?
Here are some ideas:
- Expand flights from the U.S. to more Brazilian cities. It's still expensive to fly from Brazil's southeast to the country's north and northeast, but there aren't always direct options from the U.S. to those areas, and sometimes require a stopover in São Paulo or Rio.
- Figure out ways for both countries' tech sectors to work more seamlessly together. Tech companies are already collaborating, but they have lots of red tape and bureaucracy to deal with in both places.
- Create more opportunities for young adults to work in both countries. It's a big, bureaucratic process to work in either country. It would be interesting to see a bilateral gap-year-style program allowing for more short-term work opportunities that don't rely on expensive companies or competitive fellowships.
- Make it easier for academics and PhDs to work in both countries. There has been movement on this front, but there's more that could be done.
- Eliminate tourists visas for both Americans and Brazilians. It will be a long process, but it stands to benefit many in both countries in the long run.
What would you like the presidents to discuss? What would you like to see the two countries do? Leave your comment here or tweet me at @riogringa.
Updated 6/30 with information on Senate approval of defense accord.
Image: Blog do Planalto.