Houston continues to work to improve international relations in order to maintain its position as the global energy capital.
This past week, city officials went to Brazil on a trade mission in order to strengthen Houston's relationship and promote Houston as a world-class city. They also wanted to establish new investment avenues in energy, manufacturing and technology, and to promote Houston as an international city.
John Cypher is the vice president for international trade and investment at Greater Houston Partnership. He told the Houston Business Journal that Brazil was Houston's fourth largest trading partner.
In 2018, the value of trade between Houston, Texas and Brazil surpassed $20 billion. This is up from the previous high of $16.9 in 2021. Trade between Houston and Brazil averaged $14 billion per year from 2013 to 2022. Houston-Galveston Customs District, according to GHP data, is the No. The Houston-Galveston Customs District is the No. 1 gateway for U.S. - Brazilian trade.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said to the HBJ, that Brazilians are very focused on the energy transformation. He said that Brazil is leading the charge in Latin America.
Turner stated that if the United States and Canada work together or in harmony, they can reach their greenhouse gas emission reduction goals faster.
Cypher stated that one of the companies Houston met while in Brazil was Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company. Petrobras has expressed interest in a joint-venture involving carbon capture and hydrogen. Cypher announced that Houston would host a Petrobras delegation next week.
Turner stated that there were discussions regarding the Port of Houston and Port of Acu in Brazil. The focus was on better alignment of goods moving in both directions.
Cypher stated that the ports of Brazil are building all kinds of terminals to support the energy transition. This includes hydrogen and carbon sequestration and capture. He said that the ports were looking to Houston as a model for this.
Houston is also preparing memorandums-of-understanding with Brazilian entities. Paula Galhardo is a board member and legal advisor of the Brazil Texas Chamber of Commerce. She said that an MOU between Houston and Port of Acu could be renewed. Houston could sign a separate MOU with Federacao das Industrias do Estado de Sao Paulo (a large Brazilian trade and industry federation).
Turner said, "We always say that we are the gateway to Latin America." Ports are one of these gateways. There are many opportunities to develop this relationship.
He said that there have been discussions about the Inflation Reduction Act, and how it can be tied into the development of additional hydrogen and carbon storage, utilization, and capture. Turner stated that although Brazil does not have a similar law to the Inflation Reduction Act he said that a portion of its taxes goes to energy companies for research and development and another portion to colleges and universities.
Houston also held a meeting with the Brazilian Football Confederation to prepare for the FIFA World Cup matches that will be hosted in 2026. In recent years, the 2026 World Cup has been expanded to include 48 countries in the competition. The teams will be divided into 12 groups consisting of four players each for the group stage. The tournament will include 104 matches played across the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico over 40 days, including several games at NRG Stadium, Houston.
Turner stated that people in Brazil associate America with Miami. He wants to change this narrative and enhance Houston's relationship. He believes that although the Port of Houston and energy transition are being discussed, there will be a greater amount of tourism between both sites, which would help boost Houston's economic growth and add to its diversity.