In a speech in Rio de Janeiro this morning, Vice President Joe Biden called for increased cooperation, particularly economically, between Brazil and the U.S. Despite a few foreign policy disputes, the two countries have enjoyed a generally positive relationship in recent years.
Before delving into the different aspects of the partnership between the two countries, Biden had one clear message for Brazil: "You can no longer count yourself as a developing country."
He followed this somewhat controversial claim with compliments, praising Brazil for having a functional democracy and creating a large middle class.
"You, Brazil, have demonstrated that there is no need for a country to choose between democracy and development," he said, adding that countries around the world are looking to Brazil as a role model.
Biden also returned to the idea that Brazil must now consider itself a developed nation at the end of his speech.
"Brazil can no longer claim to be an emerging power. You have emerged, and everyone has noticed." Biden suggested that the cost of being a global power was global responsibility, which, he said, Brazil cannot hide from.
The vice president made it clear that a stronger relationship with Brazil is a priority for the Obama administration. He demonstrated this by specifying that all ten cabinet members have visited Brazil, which, he said, was "not by accident, but by design." He said that it was also unprecedented.
Furthermore, he said that tomorrow he will invite Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, to Washington in October for the only state visit being hosted by President Obama this year.
Biden focused primarily on strengthening economic ties with Brazil, which currently has the seventh largest economy in the world. The U.S. currently has the largest economy.
He was adamant about seeking greater Brazilian investment in the U.S.
"We want you," he said.
He also specifically asked for increased trade between the two nations. "The US and Brazil represent two of the largest and most dynamic economies in the world today. We can prosper without deepening our economic relations — but imagine what we could do with greater trade," he said.
Biden acknowledged that Brazil had reasons to question the U.S., but said that it was time to leave behind old suspicions and move forward.
While calling for increased diplomatic cooperation, he also acknowledged that the US has a questionable reputation in the Global South, saying, "great democracies like yours and mine should be promoting democratic values across the world. As a leader in the Global South, you have considerably more credit, and thus more power, than we do."
Though his speech was full of praise for Brazil, he tempered it with a healthy dose of patriotism. "It has never been a good bet to bet against the United States of America," he said. "Never." He added that he and President Obama would be great partners, citing job creation statistics.
Biden concluded by saying that we need to "mark, in 2013, a new era of Brazil-U.S. relations."
"We're ready," he continued. "The wind is at both our backs. Both of our countries are countries of possibilities — let's go find them together."