The Western Hemisphere has arrived at a moment of remarkable opportunity as it engages in the ambitious undertaking of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Its success is largely contingent upon the effective leadership of Brazil and the U.S., the co-chairs and architects of this initiative, and their ability to accommodate occasionally colliding trade interests. To make this partnership fruitful, both countries must undertake robust steps to find convergence-as has historically been the case in Brazil-U.S. relations-and not be derailed by differences on specific critical trade issues.

Convergence requires understanding, and understanding requires information. I am pleased that Brazil @ The Wilson Center has been able to fill this need for information since its inception in June 2000, promoting authoritative, informed, and timely reflection on Brazil and its relations with the United States. In addition to public meetings and conferences, the Brazil Project commissions public policy research on topics ranging from the evolving role of the state and business-state affairs, to socio-cultural analysis and partnerships in science and technology. The "Brazil Working Group," composed of high-level experts on various aspects of Brazil and its bilateral relations, meets regularly to discuss issues facing both countries in an effort to foster a more constructive and informed approach to relations.

To date, Brazil @ the Wilson Center has hosted more than 40 events, including 3 outreach seminars in Brazil. This last year has been particularly interesting following the election of a new Brazilian presidential administration, inspiring fresh and authoritative analysis on the challenges, decisions, and implications of Lula's government for the U.S.-Brazil bilateral agenda and the world.

Today, policymakers, scholars, and the media view Brazil @ The Wilson Center as a principal source for qualified and informed analysis of Brazilian issues in Washington. In accordance with the Wilson Center's noble goals of fostering advanced research and bridging the gap between policymakers and civil society, the Brazil Project generates powerful insights for creative and constructive decision-making for American and Brazilian national interests.