July 19, 2024

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will call for improving labor conditions in their countries, when they meet in New York on Wednesday, as the US also seeks to move Brazil closer to allies helping Ukraine fight Russia’s invasion.

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The two presidents plan to say that their partnership will help workers address what they consider central challenges — like the transition to the gig economy and clean energy technology, according to US officials. The agreement will also focus on how to decrease worker exploitation, including forced labor, child labor, and workplace discrimination against women, LGBTQI+ and racial and ethnic groups. And greater scrutiny will be placed on accountability in public and private investments, the officials added.

“Let’s see if we can point out to society, especially young people, an alternative, what we can do to awaken in young people the hope that they will have a job that allows them to live with dignity,” Lula told reporters in New York on Tuesday night.

Brazilian authorities have cast the leaders as being in lockstep in their support for organized labor in their countries. Biden calls himself the most pro-union president in American history and has taken steps to strengthen labor unions, a key part of his electoral coalition before the 2024 election.

Read More: Lula Has a Date With Zelenskiy in NYC Despite Past Acrimony

Biden administration officials stressed that the US and Brazil’s relationship isn’t just bilateral, but a global partnership on such issues non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and food security. The two nations are the two largest exporters of food in the world.

One administration official pointed out that the American president encouraged more leaders to “step up” in his United Nations General Assembly speech on Tuesday, and said Biden and Lula have a mutual interest in safeguarding the rights of working families.

The two countries hope to expand their partnership with more countries, aides said.

Biden administration officials said the two presidents were likely to talk about Lula’s criticism of the US embargo on Cuba, as well as their shared agenda.

This is the second time Biden has met in person with Lula, who returned to the Brazilian presidency earlier this year, since he took office. The first encounter was at the White House in February. Brazil will host the Group of 20 summit next year.

Lula also plans to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday. He has refused to take sides in the war, and has boasted of having a strong relationship Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is not attending the General Assembly.

Gaining even tacit support from Lula would be a major success for Zelenskiy, given the Brazilian leader’s place as one of the most high-profile leaders of the Global South.

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