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High hopes for Obama's Latin America swing

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Obama previously visited the Caribbean in 2009 for the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, but this is his first regional tour. Although the White House has revealed scant details of the trip with his family, scheduled for March 19-23, the main focus will undoubtedly be Brazil, which is becoming known for more than just sun, samba, and soccer. One of the most buoyant nations outside Asia, Brazil grew its economy by 7.5 percent last year to become the world's seventh-biggest.

That growth is a powerful magnet. China may have surpassed the US as Brazil's biggest trading partner in 2009, but Brazil's expertise in agriculture, deep-sea oil exploration, and clean fuels provides keen incentives for the US to ink deals.

Smaller US businesses – such as franchises – are already coming south to grab a piece of the action, while larger US firms could get involved in building or funding the infrastructure needed for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. And with Brazil looking to purchase 36 new fighter jets, Obama may try to talk up US maker Boeing.

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