“Historically since we achieved Nafta (free trade agreement including the US, Canada and Mexico in 1994) many people in the US have insisted we do something similar with the southern part of the continent. We’ve started with Chile and Peru and we hope, expect, others will be willing to join the initiative” said Kirk in a Sunday interview with the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.
The US trade top official said he was hopeful an agreement could be reached with the southern hemisphere in spite of the failure of negotiations for a Free Trade Association of the Americas which foundered in 2005 during a summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
However Kirk also insisted that a greater opening of the region’s largest economy, Brazil was needed. The US lost its position as Brazil’s main trade partner to China in 2009.
“Our hope is that once the chalice of the Brazilians is full, they can spare a few drops to the poor neighbours from North America. We would like to have half the growth rate of Brazil”, said the US trade representative.
“No matter how strong cooperation with Chile and Peru can be, when you look at the map you simply can’t ignore the potential of Brazil that can also change life for neighbours in the region”.
With a more balanced alliance “we can build an even stronger trade relation, and it would be a way not only of generating more jobs for the economy, it would be beneficial for the whole region”.
However to achieve this “it is necessary for Brazil to show its commitment as an emerging economy to help all countries of the region by opening its economy”.
Kirk said the US interest is not only limited to contracts for the World Cup of 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games, but also to the oil industry, high technology to develop the huge deep hydrocarbons discovery from 2007 onwards.
“This is an area to advance with no threats to the domestic interests”, said Kirk. The US interest in oil supplies and the development of the oil industry was clearly expressed during this year’s early March vivit to Brazil when he met with his counterpart, Dilma Rousseff.