Obama, Rousseff agree to improve trade, travel

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 30, 2015 12:01 PM

By Roberta Rampton and Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff met at the White House on Tuesday, a visit aimed at bolstering economic ties and turning the page on a spying scandal.

The presidents agreed to a series of steps to make it easier for people and goods to move between the two countries, including reopening fresh beef trade, the White House said in a statement.

The two leaders were scheduled to hold a news conference at 12:05 p.m. EDT.

Rousseff originally had accepted Obama's invitation for a formal state visit in October 2013, but skipped that visit after revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the United States had spied on Rousseff and other Brazilians.

There was no sign of remaining tension when Rousseff arrived in Washington on Monday. Obama greeted her with a hug, then took her into his motorcade for an impromptu visit to a memorial for civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

"This is the stone of hope," Obama told her, and pointed out King's most famous quotes inscribed in the monument's wall.

The two leaders then met for a working dinner at the White House.

In a sign the two leaders have put the Snowden affair behind them, the presidents agreed that the two countries will resume cooperation on cyber issues, with a meeting planned in Brasilia.

The meeting will cover "e-government, the digital economy, cyber security, cybercrime prevention," the statement said.

They also agreed to take steps so that Americans and Brazilians can travel between the two countries without visas, and to allow Brazilians to apply for expedited "Global Entry" clearance when visiting the United States in early 2016.

On the environment, the two countries agreed to increase their share of renewable energy in electricity generation from sources other than hydro-power to 20 percent by 2030. This comes before a major climate change conference in Paris in December and has been one of Obama’s priorities.

The visit is particularly important for Brazil, which is in the midst of a sharp economic downturn, a huge political corruption scandal, and a potential governance crisis.

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Rousseff wants to attract more U.S. investment to Brazil and funding for infrastructure projects.

Rousseff said Brazil will welcome U.S. companies to invest in a multi-year $64 billion infrastructure program.

The two leaders agreed to cooperate on patent registrations and standards systems, they said in their joint statement.

They also agreed to recognize social security contributions made by their citizens to each other's programs.

After Washington, Rousseff will head to Silicon Valley to meet with executives at Google <GOOGL.O>, Apple <AAPL.O> and Facebook <FB.O>.

In a visit to New York on Monday, Rousseff denied her campaign had received illegal donations in a scandal involving kickbacks allegedly paid by construction companies to politicians and former executives at state-run oil firm Petrobras <PETR4.SA>.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Idrees Ali and Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Doina Chiacu)