Last updated September 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.
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 and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. This has been complemented by close bilateral cooperation on urbanisation and cyber policy.
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 again. In 2015, German exports to Brazil were worth approximately EUR 9.9 billion, a decline of 4 per cent compared with 2014. German imports from Brazil fell by 6 per cent in 2015 compared with the previous year, to EUR 8.5 billion, putting Brazil in 26th place among countries importing goods from Germany and in 24th place among exporters to Germany. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, in 2015 Germany recorded a balance of trade surplus of nearly EUR 1.4 billion.
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 2014, German direct investment in Brazil was worth an estimated EUR 1 billion, bringing aggregate German direct investment – including reinvestment – to more than EUR 20 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 will take place in Thuringia in October 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 around 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. Where German as a foreign language is offered, demand mostly exceeds the available resources. At the 2015 German-Brazilian intergovernmental consultations, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Brazil’s Education Minister signed a joint declaration of intent to promote the teaching of German as a foreign language at Brazilian schools. In addition, an annual German Language Week has been held throughout Brazil since 2015.
Many German universities have their own cooperation agreements with Brazilian universities in a wide range of disciplines. The 570 formalised university partnerships also constitute an important institutional basis for student exchange. 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. In the 2014-2015 winter semester, there were a total of 4,708 Brazilians studying at German universities.
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. In Brazil, the DAAD has a Branch Office in Rio de Janeiro, an Information Centre in São Paulo, the Martius Chair for German and European Studies at the University of São Paulo and eight lectureships – in Belém, Belo Horizonte, Campinas, Curitiba (vacant in 2016), Fortaleza, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and São Paulo. In addition to teaching, the lecturers also provide student advice services and promote Germany as a study and research destination.
Among the most important exchange programmes conducted by the DAAD in cooperation with its Brazilian partners is the scholarship programme for Brazilian PhD students and the project-related individual exchange (PROBRAL) programme. In 2015, a total of 4,909 Brazilian students and academics took advantage of the die DAAD scholarship programmes. Germans arriving in Brazil equipped with DAAD funding numbered 812.
The DAAD also played a part 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 6,500 at German universities and research institutions. To provide preparatory language instruction to scholarship holders, in 2016 the DAAD and Brazil’s Ministry of Education jointly launched the programme Languages Without Borders – German. The programme is initially being offered at 11 Brazilian universities. The aim is to use online language courses to prepare 1,000 Brazilian students for a stay at a German university by 2018.
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. Examples of outstanding bilateral research projects are 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, and the Brazilian German Collaborative Research Initiative on Manufacturing Technology (BRAGECRIM), which was launched in 2009 and in which more than 400 researchers from over 30 German and Brazilian universities, research institutions and industry have so far pursued research. BRAGECRIM is funded on the German side by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Brazil is the world’s most biodiverse country and the Amazon rainforest is the biggest carbon sink worldwide. Although a large portion of Brazil’s energy already comes from climate-friendly, renewable energy sources, Brazil’s resource wealth in terms of water, wind, sun and biomass offers huge further potential for environmentally friendly energy generation. In short, Brazil is a country of outstanding importance for protecting biodiversity and stabilising the climate. Brazil’s national policies in these areas are of global relevance and Brazil has also set itself ambitious targets here at the international level – most recently with its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.
Germany, for its part, is a world leader in this area with its innovative climate and environmental technology, its energy transition and its efforts to build a green economy. Germany is highly committed worldwide to sustainable development, in particular protecting the climate and preserving biodiversity. That is why Germany’s development cooperation with Brazil focuses on jointly addressing these global issues: climate protection and preserving biodiversity. Substantive priority areas of the two countries’ extensive cooperation on 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 protected areas management, land and land rights issues, the sustainable use (production and marketing) of natural resources, forest restoration, management of indigenous areas and climate funding as part of REDD+.
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 military training assistance, Germany offers an annual contingent of training places to high-ranking members of Brazil’s military. There is also a lively exchange between the two countries in terms of expertise and personnel. The Bilateral Annual Programme, which has been in place since 2012, encompasses 31 coordinated measures 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. Under the programme, there are regular exchanges of personnel for officer and NCO training and further training.