Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Rousseff, in Washington, Pushes for U.S. Support in “Currency War”

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff met with President Obama yesterday on her first official visit to the United States since assuming office in January 2011. At the top of the Brazilian agenda was a push for U.S. collaboration in countering a global trend of countries keeping their currencies artificially undervalued in order to make their export prices more competitive.

According to Rousseff, a multilateral effort is needed to halt competitive exchange rate devaluations, which she contends impair growth in countries like Brazil. Now the world’s sixth-largest economy, Brazil’s trade balance with the United States has gone from a $6.4 billion surplus in 2007 to an $8.2 billion deficit in 2010. This is driven in large part by a strong real, which has boosted Brazil’s demand for imports.

Both presidents praised each other on fostering strong bilateral relations, but it was also acknowledged that there is more to be done. According to Obama, “The good news is that the relationship between Brazil and the United States has never been stronger. But we always have even greater improvements that can be made.” Among other things, the United States is trying to help U.S. businesses profit from major oil discoveries off Brazil’s coast and from growing Brazilian investments in advanced military equipment such as fighter jets.

President Rousseff is in Boston today to speak at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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