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Susan Segal's Welcoming Remarks at the 2008 Conference of the Americas

July 10, 2008

Bom dia membros do governo, corpo diplomatico, convidados especiais e senhoras e senhores. Eu sou Susan Segal, presidente da Americas Society e do Conselho das Americas. Eu gostaria de lhes dar as boas vindas a nossa conferencia: o impacto do Brasil no cenario global.

I would like to begin by thanking our partner Movimento Brasil Competitivo and Jorge Gerdau and the MBC staff for their partnership in putting together this conference. I also want to thank our corporate sponsors: ca, hbo Latin America, Itau, metlife, and mizuho as well as our pan-regional sponors: AIG, FedEx Express, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart.

Among our many guests, we have with us today Minister Paulo Bernardo Silva, U.S. Ambassador Clifford Sobel and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Brian O’Neill. Also, Central Bank President Henrique Meirellles and Vice Minister of Development Ivan Ramalho, among others, will be with us during today’s conference.

We are very excited to be back in Brazil for the fifth year hosting our annual conference here.

This is Brazil’s moment and what a time it is. As we’re here today, President Lula has just wrapped up his participation at the G8 summit. Brazil has solidified its leadership in the Doha Round of WTO negotiations and across the region – Brazil’s leadership has become more apparent each day.

Earlier this year, Brazil achieved an investment grade rating with all its benefits, it has shown its leadership position in alternative energy, and has potentially become the 5th largest energy producer in the world.

Today, some of the largest Latin American multinational corporations are Brazilian including Vale, Gerdau, Petrobras and Embraer.

In reviewing some of my past remarks, it is remarkable to look at the number of Brazil’s socio-economic goals that have come to fruition. Looking from the outside-in, possibly the most important achievement is a commitment to the macroeconomic model, fueling steady growth and propelling many Brazilians into the ranks of the middle class. You add credit to the equation and you begin to see the new consumer.

In fact, if you compare Brazil with India—one of the other four BRICS—the contrast is remarkable. From 2002 to 2007, the Brazilian middle class jumped from 32 to 49 percent of the population. The Indian middle class now numbers about 250 million people—just under 20 percent of the population. The GDP of both countries also continues to rise but the Brazilian GDP growth continues to consistently outperform that of India. Brazil’s GDP per capita even further outperforms India.

These are just some of the reasons why we see more interest than ever from our members in investing in Brazil. And we predict that this interest will only accelerate over time.

That is not to say that many challenges do not exist – both within Brazil but also in relationship to the global economy. Today we will explore many of those challenges and issues.

É um grande prazer participar de estar aqui com voces hoje. Obrigada a todos pela sua presença.