Centennial Speaker Discusses Brazil’s Ties to U.S.

By Kristopher Rivera

UTEP News Service

Brazil continues to keep a healthy bilateral economic relationship with the U.S. while its emerging economy has gone global, reaching countries outside of the Americas and Europe in recent years, Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Mauro Vieira told an El Paso audience Feb. 26.

“Our trade with the United States is very well balanced,” Vieira said. “It’s a good quality with a lot of manufacturing and industrialized goods, as well as with China.”

Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Mauro Vieira poses with members of UTEP's Brazilian Culture Center after his Centennial Lecture Feb. 26. Photo by / UTEP News Service
Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Mauro Vieira poses with members of UTEP’s Brazilian Culture Center and UTEP President Diana Natalicio after his Centennial Lecture Feb. 26. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP News Service

After a century of being Brazil’s primary trade partner, the U.S. dropped to second place behind China, Vieira said. It’s a display of Brazil’s global movement and economic impact.

Vieira’s talk was part of The University of Texas at El Paso’s Centennial Lecture Series. The series features noteworthy speakers who share their perspectives on a broad range of contemporary issues that are likely to impact our society, culture and lives in the years ahead.

Vieira focused his remarks on Brazil’s bilateral relationship with the United States, its economic growth and its initiative to send Brazilian students to institutions of higher education in the U.S.

Brazil is the eighth main trade partner to the U.S., and second in Latin America behind Mexico. Trade between Brazil and the U.S. in 2013 generated $74 billion, providing the second largest trade surplus to the U.S. of an estimated $16 billion.

The U.S. is the largest investor in Brazil, with the total stock of capital investment at approximately $135 billion. According to Vieira, the U.S. maintains 112,000 jobs because of Brazilian investments.

Over the last 12 years, there has been large growth in the Brazilian economy. In 2000, the U.S. economy was 14 times larger than the Brazilian economy. However, in 2012, it was only six times larger.

About 31 million people have entered the Brazilian middle class in recent years, which is composed of more than 100 million citizens.

The Brazilian economy is projected to benefit financially – to the tune of approximately $90 billion – between now and 2020 as a result of hosting the FIFA World Cup later this year and the summer Olympics in 2016.

Brazil has worked on reducing its government debt, which fell from 60 percent in 2010 to approximately 34 percent by the end of 2013.

Vieira also talked about Science Without Borders, a program created by the Brazilian government to give undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to study abroad.

“It was a top priority that was established by President Dilma Rousseff when she took office in January 2011,” he said. “She wanted to have high quality education in Brazil and also to send a large number of Brazilian students abroad, focusing on the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to expose them to the best education systems, the best universities around the world.”

The program’s goal is to send 100,000 Brazilian students abroad. The federal government covers 75 percent of costs, and the remaining 25 percent is paid by the private sector.

In 2012, UTEP President Diana Natalicio traveled to Brazil with a team from UTEP to sign memorandums of understanding with five Brazilian universities in support of the Science Without Borders program.

Miguel Orozco, senior accounting major, took advantage of the lecture to understand the duties of an ambassador.

“I want to be a diplomat at some point of my life, so I thought this was the perfect merging point to come here and ask a question to someone who is experienced in global interactions and global environments,” Orozco said.

Vieira has had a long and distinguished career with the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations. He was appointed to his current position in January 2010 after a six-year tenure as Ambassador to Argentina. Previously, he served as coordinator for international treaties, chief of staff to the Secretary General and chief of staff to the Minister of Foreign Relations.

Néstor Y. Durán Nungaray, a senior linguistics major, was in the audience with a group of his fellow members from the Brazilian Culture Center, a student organization at UTEP.

“These types of opportunities, especially at this time in UTEP’s history, are very crucial because you have the opportunity to not only get the history of the University or other aspects of the U.S., but open your vision to the world,” he said. “We’re in the 21st century, so now everyone has to have a type of global mindset to really be successful.”

Sergio M. Alcocer, Mexico’s Undersecretary for North America, will deliver the next Centennial Lecture at 5 p.m. March 6 in the Undergraduate Learning Center, room 106. The event is free and open to the public.

Visit centennial.utep.edu/lectures.html for more information about the Centennial Lecture Series.