Not even an entire ocean can divide us, because Latin America and Europe are natural partners. We have a vast amount in common: we live in democracies, share cultural similarities and are committed to an international system based on rules and human rights. This is true of Colombia and Panama just as much as of Brazil – our strategic partner and the upcoming G20 presidency. The new Government led by President Lula wants to make Brazil’s strong voice heard in resolving the most pressing global challenges. In this context, we are united in the firm conviction that prosperity is possible only with peace and freedom – even if, as most recently with regard to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, we sometimes have differing viewpoints.
Rarely before have our economic and environmental interests been so closely intertwined. Because without Latin America we will not be able to contain the climate crisis. Every minute, an area of the Amazon rainforest the size of three football pitches burns or falls victim to chainsaws. This has consequences for all of us. If the trees continue to fall, the entire ecosystem will collapse. That is why we share the Brazilian Government’s ambitions to give those who live near the rainforest economic prospects – not against the forest, but with it. The green potential here is huge: Brazil already generates almost 90 percent of its electricity from renewables, and green hydrogen has a great future in broad parts of the continent.
The ocean giants that squeeze through the narrow passage that is the Panama Canal remind us what else Latin America is: a potential titan in the global economy. Secure supply chains, green energies, reduced dependency on raw materials – since the start of the Russian war of aggression, we are rapidly reorganising our global links. We want a dense and sustainable network, also across the Atlantic. The free trade agreement with the MERCOSUR states would be a major step forwards here. If we shape it in a sustainable way and ensure effective protection for the rainforest, it will provide the incentives and rules our regions need to become pioneers in the green, socially just transition.
Latin America has long since found its way to our labour market. Brazilian carers and Colombian electricians are already being met with open arms in Germany. We want to develop this partnership further. As the Federal Government, we have undertaken to completely revise our immigration policy, because our economy urgently needs more skilled workers. This is one of the issues I will be canvassing for in Brazil along with my cabinet colleague, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil.