By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Barack_Obama_Copenhagen_October_2_2009February 25 - A new financing deal that will allow United States companies more opportunity to get involved in preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro is set to be offered by President Barack Obama when he visits Brazil next month, it has been revealed.

The financing scheme, which would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars or more annually, has been under discussion between the two Governments for several months now and is set to be formally announced when Obama travels there on March 19 and 20.

Obama was closely linked wtih Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics, even turning up for the final vote at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session at Copenhagen in October 2009, where Rio were awarded the Games.

The vehicle for the financing will be the Export-Import Bank of the United States, or Ex-Im Bank, which has seen its role expand dramatically in the last two years as the Obama administration looks for business opportunities abroad.

Ex-Im Bank seeks to make an unspecified amount of funding available for US-based companies and US subsidiaries of multinationals to help build roads and other infrastructure projects in Brazil, Ex-Im Bank chairman Fred P. Hochberg said.

It is difficult for foreign companies to earn major building contracts in Brazil unless they partner with a company already established there.

"Brazil is a place where we see major promise, a lot of potential for cooperation," Hochberg told Reuters.

"Investment in infrastructure (in emerging markets) is growing at a level we've never seen before."

Funds for joint US-Brazilian projects in other countries would be provided through a "co-financing" deal between Ex-Im Bank and Brazil's state-run development bank, BNDES.

Such arrangements provide a "one-stop shop" with one set of documents and financing conditions for joint ventures.

Ex-Im Bank last year authorised a record high $24.5 billion (£15.1 billion) in loans, guarantees and insurance worldwide.

Several high-profile projects related to the World Cup and Olympics, including stadiums and airport renovations, are running well behind schedule, so additional US involvement could help.

Pele has already warned that the country runs "a great risk of embarrassing itself" at the World Cup unless the pace of construction accelerates.

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