President Barack Obama’s arrival at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago on April 17-19 will be his first opportunity to meet and address 33 other heads of state from the Americas. This is an important moment for the president to set the tone of his administration’s policy toward the region, as well as reengage with a region that was largely missing from the Bush administration’s foreign policy radar screen.
Despite some of the challenges posed from several Latin American leaders, the Obama administration has an opportunity to signal a shift in U.S. relations with the hemisphere. In this case, President Obama wants to promote an “Energy Partnership for the Americas.” Establishing exactly what that means and how the Obama administration intends to pursue the partnership is something the president should avidly pursue at the summit.
Brazil’s cooperation in this energy partnership is paramount. Brazil has voiced some initial skepticism, which is why President Obama’s team must convince Brazil and the countries of the Americas that the United States is serious about tackling climate change domestically and in cooperation with the international community—removing tariffs on Brazilian ethanol entering the United States would be a good place to start—and establish why his “Energy Partnership for the Americas” is in the interest of countries throughout the hemisphere.
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