Global Business@Meridian Downtown: Brazil

Eric Loeb, Vice President of International External Affairs, AT&T; His Excellency Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States; Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President & CEO, Meridian International Center
Eric Loeb, Vice President of International External Affairs, AT&T; His Excellency Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States; Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President & CEO, Meridian International Center

Overview

Meridian held an installment of the Global Business@Meridian Downtown breakfast series on March 1, 2016. Hosted by Mr. Eric Loeb, Senior Vice President of International External and Regulatory Affairs of AT&T, the program featured His Excellency Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Brazilian Ambassador to the United States, and drew 25 corporate leaders together to engage in an off-the-record dialogue on the business climate and relevant opportunities for foreign direct in Brazil.

In Attendance

  • Embassy of Brazil: Ambassador Machado, Mr. Ricardo Monteiro, Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs, Mr. Ricardo Daskal Hirschbruch, Secretary, Trade and Investment
  • Corporate Council Members: AT&T, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, BP America, Chevron, Exxon, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, The Coca Cola Company
  • Guests: Albright Stonebridge, Barclays, Comcast Corporation, Harper Macaw, Northern Trust, Squire Patton Boggs, Viacom, Wiley Rein
  • Meridian International Center: Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Lee Satterfield, Amy Selco, Puru Trivedi

Key Discussion Highlights

  • Creating a More Diversified Economy: Brazil’s main priority is investments in infrastructure, to reduce costs and to increase productivity.
  • Trade Agreements: Brazil would like to expand its Free Trade Agreements, and sees the negotiation in course with the EU as a step for trade deals going forward. Mercosur, the trade bloc consisting of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela and Brazil, is consolidated and it is open to further trade agreements which will benefit Brazil’s trade with the World.
  • Political Outlook: There is an element of pessimism in the economy, fueled by a negative external scenario and political polarization. Unemployment has increased but is still at reasonable rates and debt is 66% of GDP. However Brazil has over $360B USD in capital reserves and exchange rate is doing its part to balance Brazil’s foreign account, increase competitiveness and attract foreign investment.
  • Internet Governance: Governance of the internet is an important issue, and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Brazil is actively seeking input from the private sector to make sure Brazil is leading in establishing norms for dealing with internet governance issues.
  • Health Concerns surrounding Olympics: The recent outbreak of the Zika virus is a global crisis, affecting so far almost 40 countries. It is the object of strong action by Brazilian and international health authorities. All the proper measures are being taken to ensure healthy and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Featured Remarks

  • Eric Loeb, AT&T
    Mr. Loeb provided welcome remarks on behalf of AT&T, highlighting the company’s longstanding history of operations in the region, as well as current footprint and activities within Brazil and Latin America. AT&T’s main interests in the country are developing the Internet of Things economy, as well as optimizing the digital economy of Brazil.
  • Ambassador Machado, Embassy of Brazil
    Ambassador Machado offered comments on the current state of trade and business environment in Brazil. Ambassador Machado stated that despite the challenges there are encouraging signs in investments and trade, especially of value added goods with the United States. Ambassador Machado re-affirmed Brazil’s commitment to its partnership with the United States, as this bilateral relationship continues to flourish. Issues related to commodities trade and infrastructure are key priorities for the near-term, and Ambassador Machado identified the following sectors as sunrise/future focus industries: information technology, telecommunications, and life sciences.

Meridian looks forward to working with Brazil on a number of upcoming initiatives and remaining engaged with the Embassy of Brazil in Washington.

For Council items, please contact Puru P. Trivedi, Associate Director for Corporate Relations | 202-939-5524 | ptrivedi@meridian.org

Project summary

Global Business@Meridian Downtown: Brazil | March 2016
Number of Attendees: 25
Regions: Western Hemisphere
Countries: Brazil
Impact Areas: Business and Trade
Program Areas: Convening
Partners: Private Sector