“Latin America on the Move”
How is Latin America positioning itself in the 21st century? How can megacities become more liveable? How can the challenges of climate change be met? These were the questions tackled at a high-level conference at Berlin’s House of World Cultures on 22 November.
Westerwelle and the UNASUR Secretary General in Berlin
In a speech to conference participants, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle described Latin America and Europe as “natural allies when it comes to anchoring our common values in tomorrow’s world order”. With its “positive economic development”, he said, the region of Latin America and the Caribbean had “also gained greater capacity for action and more self-confidence in the area of foreign policy”. Germany, he added, welcomed this development, as the global emergence of new centres of power was an opportunity to meet the challenges of globalization.
The conference, organized in cooperation with the Ibero-American Institute and the House of World Cultures, reflects an area of focus for the German Government. In August 2010 the German Government adopted a new comprehensive Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean, which lends a new quality to relations with this important region.
Using opportunities offered by Latin America
In a discussion round with Foreign Minister Westerwelle and María Emma Mejía Vélez, Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Stefan Zoller, Chairman of the Brazil Board of the Federation of German Industries, said the task now was to flesh out the Latin America strategy more concretely. Other countries too, he said, had discovered the opportunities that Latin America and the Caribbean offered.
Ms Mejía Vélez stressed that for the first time in its history Latin America was “part of the solution” and not “part of the problem”. The region’s economy, she said, had developed so positively and had changed so much that Europe and Latin America could now “fall in love with each other all over again”.
Latin America is an attractive market and has a population of roughly 600 million. Germany’s economic relations with the region are developing dynamically. Germany is Latin America’s leading trading partner within the EU. While Germany’s total trade volume increased by approximately 24 percent from 2005 to 2010, its trade with Latin America grew by roughly 60 percent.
UNASUR is an international organization comprised of the 12 South American states: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. The organization has its headquarters in Quito, Ecuador.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle highlighted the unique business philosophy of German companies. He said they did not merely seek quick profits, but rather wanted to “build up long-term partnerships”. According to Westerwelle, they thereby made a “concrete contribution to sustainable development, vocational training and transfer of technology”. A total of 85 percent of German investment in the region goes to the manufacturing industry.
Minister Westerwelle, Foundation President Ferrero-Waldner and Hamburg Mayor Scholz (from left to right)
The newly established EU-Latin America and Caribbean Foundation in Hamburg is now partially responsible for nurturing the close partnership between Europe and Latin America. At the Foundation’s inaugural event on 7 November, Foreign Minister Westerwelle said Hamburg made an excellent location for this work. As Germany’s gateway to the world, Hamburg has long maintained close trade relations with Latin America. Former EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the Foundation’s President, introduced her organization at the Latin America and Caribbean conference in Berlin.
Last updated 22.11.2011