Last updated in February 2016
Brazil is the only Latin American country with which Germany enjoys a “strategic partnership”. This is based on the German-Brazilian Strategic Partnership Action Plan of May 2008, in which both countries agreed to further step up bilateral and multilateral cooperation. A landmark event in efforts to strengthen bilateral relations were the first intergovernmental consultations in August 2015, which Federal Chancellor Merkel and 12 Cabinet members (or their deputies) travelled Brasília to attend.
Bilateral cooperation is wide-ranging, covering areas such as energy, environmental and climate protection, science and research, business, defence, labour and social affairs as well as cooperation within the United Nations and on human rights. With funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Environment Ministry and the International Climate Initiative, Germany is working together with Brazil to protect the country’s tropical forest and promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Both Germany and Brazil attach particular importance to scientific, technological and cultural exchange. The fact that large numbers of Germans emigrated to Brazil in the past has a favourable effect on cooperation.
Mutual visits by politicians are frequent. Federal Chancellor Merkel visited Brazil twice in 2014. During her first visit, on 15 June 2014, she held extensive consultations with President Rousseff. Federal President Gauck and Federal Chancellor Merkel paid a joint visit to Brazil to attend the World Cup final. The German national team’s successful performance in Brazil was seen as a boost to Germany’s image.
Brazil and Germany work together closely on numerous issues on the international agenda, in particular the reform of the United Nations, including the enlargement of the Security Council by the admission of new permanent and non-permanent members, and the reform of the global financial system. Cooperation also encompasses international climate protection and environmental policy, the G20 (financial, monetary and global economic issues) and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. This has been complemented by close bilateral cooperation on urbanisation and cybersecurity issues.
Brazil is Germany’s principal Latin American trading partner. Bilateral trade in both directions has gained impetus in the past two decades, with a temporary decline due to the economic and monetary crisis. This growth has recently lost momentum. In 2014, German exports to Brazil were worth approximately EUR 11.8 billion, an increase of 1 per cent compared with 2013. German imports from Brazil fell by 7 per cent in 2014 compared with the previous year, to EUR 6.6 billion, putting Brazil in 23rd place among countries importing goods from Germany and in 22nd place among exporters to Germany. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, in 2014 Germany recorded a balance of trade surplus of EUR 1.1 billion. Trade figures are not yet available for 2015 but there have been declines in both exports and imports.
Brazil’s main exports to Germany are iron ore, soya and soya products, coffee and coffee products, car parts, civil aircraft, machinery, meat, copper and crude oil. Brazil’s principal imports from Germany are machinery, cars and car parts, basic chemical materials, pharmaceutical products, electrical and metal goods.
In 2013, German direct investment in Brazil was worth an estimated USD 2.2 billion, bringing aggregate German direct investment – including reinvestment – to more than USD 24 billion. There are more than 1,300 German-Brazilian companies employing a total workforce of approximately 250,000 people. With some 900 German-Brazilian companies, São Paulo has one of the largest concentrations of German business worldwide. Brazilian direct investment in Germany has so far been fairly limited. German companies’ massive presence in Brazil and their local manufacturing and production facilities also explain why the volume of bilateral trade is not higher still.
In Brazil, Germany has German-Brazilian Chambers of Commerce and Industry based in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre, as well as a Germany Trade & Invest (gtai) correspondent in São Paulo. The chambers provide extensive information material for German exporters and investors and are available to answer any investment-related questions.
To strengthen bilateral economic relations, the German-Brazilian Economic Meeting is held once a year and includes meetings for entrepreneurs. It is organised by the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and its Brazilian counterpart, the Confederação Nacional da Indústria (CNI). The meeting of the Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation is scheduled to coincide with the Economic Meeting. The 33rd German-Brazilian Economic Meeting was held from 20 to 22 September 2015 in the Brazilian city of Joinville and the next meeting is scheduled to take place in Thuringia in September of this year. Both at these meetings and at various foreign trade fairs, there is evidence of Brazil’s keen interest in German future-oriented technologies in sectors such as transport, infrastructure, urban development, health care, renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate protection.
Culture and education
Cooperation focuses on promoting German as a foreign language, special consideration being given to the German Schools, cultural programme work and scientific and academic exchange.
German-Brazilian cultural relations were given fresh momentum by the Year of Germany in Brazil 2013/2014. More than 1,100 events were held, including exhibitions like the Science Tunnel that drew more than 40,000 visitors, concert tours by German symphony and chamber orchestras, an open-air concert by German pop band Seeed and Germany’s participation as Guest of Honour in the 2013 International Book Fair in Rio de Janeiro. Germany’s image in the country was also boosted by the 2014 FIFA World Cup that was hosted by Brazil.
The Goethe Institute’s network in Brazil encompasses five institutes: in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Porto Alegre and Curitiba as well as the Goethe Centre in Brasília. The focus is on language work as well as extensive programme work. German-Brazilian cultural societies make a valuable contribution to Germany’s cultural presence in Brazil, especially in the areas settled by German immigrants in the south of the country (Blumenau, Joinville and São Bento do Sul), but also in the north-east (Recife, Fortaleza and Belém).
There are four binational German Schools in Brazil leading up to the German university-entrance examination (Abitur), three in São Paulo and one in Rio de Janeiro. With some 10,000 mainly Brazilian students, the Porto Seguro School in São Paulo is the largest German School Abroad worldwide.
There are 50 public and private schools in Brazil belonging to the Schools – Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH) that offer German as a foreign language. Every year, more than 2,100 students take German language tests and 750 participate in exchange programmes with Germany.
German is seen in Brazil as an important European language in terms of culture, but also increasingly as a key to professional and academic success. Wherever German as a foreign language is offered, demand exceeds the available resources. At state schools, however, the teaching of German as a foreign language is almost exclusively limited to the south of the country.
Brazil is a priority partner country of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and has for decades been one of Germany’s principal cooperation partners in the area of higher education. Among the most important exchange programmes conducted by the DAAD in cooperation with its Brazilian partners is the scholarship programme for Brazilian PhD students, the project-related individual exchange (PROBRAL) programmes and the integrated academic cooperation (UNIBRAL) projects. Over the past ten years, from 2005 to 2014, a total of 21,905 Brazilian and German students and academics have taken advantage of the DAAD scholarship programmes. The DAAD also plays a key role in implementing Brazil’s mobility programme Science Without Borders. Since 2011, more than 90,000 Brazilian undergraduates, PhD students and young researchers have received funding enabling them to study or pursue research abroad, including some 6,595 at German universities and research institutions. To provide preparatory language instruction to scholarship holders, every year between ten and 20 DAAD teaching assistants have been employed at higher education institutions in Brazil and language courses have been offered at German universities.
In addition, at the 2015 German-Brazilian intergovernmental consultations a declaration of intent was signed on the language promotion programme German Without Borders, which is specifically designed to enhance the language skills of Brazilian participants with a view to their studying in Germany.
There are currently seven academic teachers seconded by the DAAD working in Brazil – in Belém, Fortaleza, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo (two), Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte – who also provide student advice services and promote Germany as a study and research destination.
Many German universities have their own cooperation agreements with Brazilian universities in a wide range of disciplines. According to the German Rectors’ Conference website, there are, as of January 2015, 545 university partnerships between the two countries. Germany’s growing attractiveness as a study destination for Brazilian students is also evidenced by the fact that in 2013 Brazil made it for the first time to the Top 20 list of countries of origin of foreign students studying in Germany.
With political initiatives like the German-Brazilian Year of Science, Technology and Innovation 2010/11, the Year of Germany in Brazil 2013/2014 and the establishment of the German House of Science and Innovation in São Paulo (www.dwih.com.br), Germany has succeeded in further enhancing its presence in Brazil and giving fresh impetus to cooperation. Well over 100 events were held during the Year of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Year of Germany in Brazil also included an extensive scientific programme featuring 140 events. The DAAD, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG) as well as five representatives (Frei Universität Berlin, Technische Universität München, University Alliance Ruhr, the UA S7 consortium of German universities of applied sciences and Münster University) of 13 universities are based at the German House of Science and Innovation in São Paulo. Along with Moscow, New Delhi, New York and Tokyo, it is the fifth location of its kind worldwide presenting information on German science and research and promoting cooperation with innovative German organisations and companies.
Brazil has become a highly regarded partner of Germany in project-related cooperation. In addition to bilateral cooperation between research institutions and universities, organisations that are particularly engaged in Brazil include the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the DFG, the FhG, the Max Planck Society, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Leopoldina. An outstanding bilateral research project is the 320 metre high Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory, which was set up by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, with co-funding from Brazil, to collect data for analysing the climatic function of the rain forest.
German development cooperation with Brazil focuses on jointly addressing global problems. Priority areas of the extensive Cooperation for Sustainable Development are the protection and sustainable use of tropical forest and promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
With an area of 4.8 million square kilometres, Brazil’s tropical forests make up approximately ten per cent of the world’s total tropical forest area. And Brazil’s 2.5 million animal and plant species make it the world’s most biodiverse country. They also constitute a gigantic carbon sink and regulate regional and global hydrologic cycles. Since the 1990s, Germany has been cooperating with Brazil to preserve the country’s tropical forests and its current engagement includes the protection and management of indigenous areas, land and land rights issues, environmental management and the sustainable use of natural resources.
By providing advice and funding and setting up pilot plants for wind power, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power, biogas and energy efficiency, Germany is helping to establish a climate-friendly energy mix in Brazil. In line with the joint declaration on the establishment of a German-Brazilian urbanisation partnership, which was adopted at the intergovernmental consultations, attention is increasingly focusing on energy-efficient and sustainable urban development.
Given Brazil’s development successes, triangular cooperation arrangements – to pass on the experience it has gained to third countries – also play a role in cooperation.
Brazil’s and Germany’s armed forces have maintained good and close relations since 1962.
As part of the Bilateral Annual Programme, 29 coordinated measures are being conducted under bilateral cooperation between Brazil and Germany in 2016. They relate to issues of security policy, general operational command and command support, the conduct of projects in different branches of the armed forces, medical services and training. There are regular exchanges of personnel for officer and NCO training and further training.