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Speech by Foreign Minister Westerwelle at the opening of the 64th Latin America Day in Hamburg on 5 November 2013

05.11.2013

-- Translation of advance text --

Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín,
Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno Charme,
Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal,
Mr Melsheimer,
Mr Liesenfeld,
Excellencies, 
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be taking part once again in the opening of Latin America Day. Allow me to begin by acknowledging the Lateinamerika Verein’s dedicated work. I would also like to thank the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce for its active support.

Hamburg has been an important gateway to the Latin American and Caribbean world for generations. This makes it more than fitting for Hamburg to house the headquarters of the foundation for fostering relations between the EU and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Latin America and Europe are natural partners in a globalised world. Our partnership is based on solid foundations of shared values. We are bound together by the same ideas of freedom, human dignity, democracy and the rule of law.

For all the geographical distance between us, Latin America and Europe are very close.

That’s not just political theory. At the United Nations in New York, Brazil and Germany just launched a joint initiative to enshrine the protection of privacy at a global level.

Latin America has traced a trajectory of an impressive economic success. After Chile and Mexico, Colombia is now on the way to becoming a member of the OECD. We in Europe are glad to see the rise of Latin America.

Latin America's success opens up lots of new opportunities for German industry in particular, and German industry has a lot to offer at the same time.

It’s not only German companies’ products and services that are held in high regard. I am also often asked about our dual system of vocational training. Germany’s vocational training system is becoming a top “Made in Germany” export.

The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce is one of our front runners when it comes to sharing experience of vocational training.

I would like to thank the President of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce for that important work.

We are gratified by our Latin American partners’ interest in expanding cooperation on science and technology.

Particularly for Germany’s technologically competent SMEs, operating abroad becomes an option when there are reliable framework conditions. The conditions need to be right, both overall and when it comes to the detail.

We need to stand together to resist protectionist tendencies. In the long term, only free trade can deliver economic growth, job security and social stability.

We welcome the dedication of the Pacific Alliance in dismantling obstacles to trade and fostering free trade. The German Government has also stood up for free trade over recent years.

We pushed successfully for the EU to conclude free trade agreements with Central America, Peru and Colombia.

In Brussels and the southern countries of Latin America, we continue to advocate an ambitious association agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR. We are confident that we can make a number of important strides before the year is out.

The comprehensive transatlantic free trade agreement is probably the world’s most significant project for promoting free trade at the moment. As we think about that, we are of course giving consideration to how it might affect third parties.

I myself spoke with my counterparts in Canada and Mexico this summer about the opportunities of such an agreement. The transatlantic economic agreement isn’t directed against anyone.

The critics’ worries will be dispelled by the powerful impetus that a successful agreement will pass on to the global economy.

The economies of Latin America and the Caribbean in particular are in a good position to benefit from fresh transatlantic economic growth.

I don’t see any point in breaking off our talks about a transatlantic free trade agreement. Rather, what we should do now is make data protection and the protection of information and privacy a central element of the negotiations.

In today’s changing world, there is no country that can face our global challenges alone. Only together can we help shape globalisation in a responsible manner. We therefore need to join forces with like-minded partners.

That is why, at the beginning of my term in office, I made it an objective to pay due consideration to Latin America’s growing economic and political clout and to raise relations between Germany and Latin America to a new level.

I take the great interest that Latin America Day attracts as pleasing evidence of the success of our joint efforts. Let us continue in that endeavour.

Thank you very much.

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