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Brazil

Last updated March 2017

Politics

Brazil is the only Latin American country with which Germany has enjoyed a “strategic partnership” since 2008. This strategic partnership is principally concerned with further expanding cooperation on bilateral and multilateral issues. The first intergovernmental consultations in August 2015, for which Federal Chancellor Merkel and 12 Cabinet members (or their deputies) travelled to Brasília, were a landmark event in efforts to strengthen relations.

Cooperation between the two countries is wide-ranging, covering areas such as energy, environment, climate, science and research, business and trade, 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 energies and energy efficiency. Both Germany and Brazil attach particular importance to scientific, technological and cultural exchange. The large number of Germans who emigrated to Brazil throughout history have a positive impact 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 to include 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.


Economy

Brazil is Germany’s largest 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 9.8 billion euros, a decline of 4.7 per cent compared with 2014. German imports from Brazil fell by 6.3 per cent in 2015 compared with the previous year, to 8.5 billion euros, 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, Germany recorded a balance of trade surplus of nearly 1.4 billion euros in 2015.

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, chemical precursors, pharmaceutical products, electrical and metal goods.

German direct investment in Brazil – including reinvestment – is worth more than 20 billion euros. 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.

In Brazil, the German business community can avail itself of the services of the 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 and advice for German exporters and investors. To strengthen bilateral economic relations, the German-Brazilian Economic Meeting is held once a year with 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 34th German-Brazilian Economic Meeting was held from 16 to 18 October 2016 in the city of Weimar, and the next meeting will take place in Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, from 12 to 14 November 2017.   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, renewable energies, 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.

The opening of a Centre for German and European Studies (CGES) in April at two prestigious universities in Porto Alegre – the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) and the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) – will strengthen bilateral academic education and research in a lasting way and create new networks between Brazil, Germany and Europe. The project, which is funded by the Federal Foreign Office, holds great potential to have an impact on the entire region.

German-Brazilian cultural relations were given fresh momentum by the Year of Germany in Brazil 2013/14. More than 1100 events were held as part of this project. Germany’s image in the country was also boosted by the 2014 FIFA World Cup that was hosted by Brazil.

The network of the Goethe-Institute 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 German Schools Abroad in Brazil leading up to the German university-entrance examination (Abitur), three in São Paulo and one in Rio de Janeiro. There are around 50 public and private schools in Brazil belonging to the “Schools: Partners for the Future” (PASCH) initiative that offer German as a foreign language. German is increasingly seen in Brazil as a key to professional and academic success. At the 2015 German-Brazilian intergovernmental consultations, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Brazil’s Education Minister signed a joint declaration of intent on promoting the teaching of German as a foreign language at Brazilian schools. An annual German Language Week has been held throughout Brazil since 2016.

Many German universities have their own cooperation agreements with Brazilian universities. The approximately 570 formalised university partnerships also constitute an important institutional basis for student exchange. In the 2015/16 winter semester, there were a total of 4,811 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 and seven lectorships – in Belém, Belo Horizonte, Campinas, Curitiba, Fortaleza (vacant), Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and São Paulo. In addition to teaching, the lectors also provide student advice services and promote Germany as a study and research destination.

The DAAD currently coordinates approximately 30 exchanges programmes in Brazil for students and academics. To provide preparatory language instruction for study in Germany, the DAAD and Brazil’s Ministry of Education jointly launched the programme Languages Without Borders – German in 2016. The programme is initially being offered at 11 Brazilian universities. The aim is for 1000 Brazilian students to use online language courses to prepare for a stay at a German university by 2018.

In addition, the DAAD heads the consortium that oversees the German House of Science and Innovation (DWIH) in São Paulo and played a major role in implementing the Science Without Borders mobility programme. Since 2011, Brazil has provided more than 100,000 scholarships for study and research abroad through this programme, while Germany has received some 6,500 Brazilian undergraduates, PhD students and young researchers. The scholarship programme was discontinued at the end of June 2016 because of spending cuts by the Brazilian government. A new programme aimed at making universities more international is currently being developed.


Research

With political initiatives like the German-Brazilian Year of Science, Technology and Innovation 2010/11, the Year of Germany in Brazil 2013/14 and the establishment of the German House of Science and Innovation in São Paulo, Germany has succeeded in further enhancing its presence in Brazil and giving fresh impetus to cooperation.

The German House of Science and Innovation (DWIH) in São Paulo, which brings German funding organisations, research institutions and universities (www.dwih.com.br) together under one roof, has received funding from the Federal Foreign Office since 2009. The DWIH supports cooperation between science and industry, provides information on German science and research, and promotes cooperation with innovative German organisations and companies. The DWIH São Paulo organises a conference each year on scientifically relevant issues. Last year the conference focused on urbanisation, and this year German and Brazilian scientists will discuss and exchange views on the issue of bioeconomy.

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 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundatin), the Frauenhofer Gesellschaft, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Examples of outstanding bilateral research projects include 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 BRAGECRIM research network, in which more than 400 researchers from over 30 German and Brazilian universities, research institutions and industry partners are pursuing the development of sustainable and innovative production technologies. BRAGECRIM is funded on the German side by the German Research Foundation (DFG).


Development cooperation

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 wealth of resources such as 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. 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.


Military

The Armed forces of Brazil and Germany 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 the Brazilian 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 34 coordinated measures in 2017. 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.


Disclaimer: 

This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.

Development cooperation

Brazil is a partner country of German development cooperation. For more information please visit the website of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

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