When the Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevêdo clinched the biggest job in global trade last week – as director-general of the World Trade Organisation – he received a relatively warm response from Washington.
The US could not have been expected to do anything other than vote for Mr Azevêdo’s rival, Herminio Blanco, the former trade minister of Mexico.
But Washington’s decision to “join the consensus” when Mr Azevêdo was selected by the WTO and back the Brazilian candidate showed both respect for the man and for the emerging power he represents.
The growing sense of bonhomie between the two countries makes sense. For the US, Brazil is looking more than ever like a friendly face in an increasingly multipolar world, one that is tilting slowly towards east Asia. For Brazil, the US, with its technology, quality higher education and capital markets, is an ever more important partner in the effort to become more internationally competitive and escape the middle income trap in which it has languished for decades.
Perhaps for this reason, Barack Obama, the US president, is expected later this year to roll out the red carpet and offer Dilma Rousseff, his Brazilian counterpart, the first state visit for a leader of her country since 1995.
“It’s an important time between the US and Brazil,” says Eric Farnsworth, vice-president of the Council of Americas and Americas Society.
“Everything I see indicates that Washington views Brazil’s rise as a favourable development.”
Brazilian and US relations date back to 1824 when Washington became the first state to recognise the independence of the Latin American power to the south. Brazil was also the only South American country to send troops to fight on the allied side in the second world war.
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