Welcome

Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to German business representatives in the German-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in São Paulo

11.03.2010 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Mr Porto,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin by thanking you most warmly for inviting me here today and giving me the opportunity to exchange views with you in this important chamber of commerce abroad.

I remember my last visit to São Paulo and the Chamber of Commerce here in Santo Amaro very well. That was in April 2003, on the other side of the building. I recall with pleasure our discussions, which focussed on the opportunities that São Paulo has to offer to German business, but also on the challenges that the city, indeed the whole country, and companies must rise to meet.

Since then progress has been made in Brazil. Brazil has become more prosperous and an international heavyweight. Brazil plays a major role in the United Nations, the G20, the World Trade Organization and in international climate negotiations. We frequently pursue the same policies, whether it be strengthening the UN, our joint efforts on global disarmament, or seeking a stable financial order. Our ever closer global cooperation is based on our traditionally strong bilateral ties, which we want to intensify further.

The Federal Government intends to make Latin America a key focus of German foreign policy. Germany intends to redefine its relations with Latin America within a comprehensive new strategy. Work on this has been at full steam since I took office.

New ideas are bound to emerge from this year’s Ambassadors Conference at the Federal Foreign Office, which will be dedicated to the region of Latin America. There we will continue to formulate precisely the Federal Government’s policy towards Latin America.

We are not starting from zero. Our two continents share fundamental common values. They include democracy and the rule of law, the need for international cooperation and the primacy of international law. We share a very similar understanding of the value of individual freedom. This binds us together. Our policy towards Latin America builds on the long tradition uniting Germany with the countries of Latin America.

We can use actual figures to illustrate this connection: with a trade volume of almost 20 billion euro, Germany is one of Brazil’s major trade partners, and Brazil is Germany’s most important trade partner in Latin America. These close economic ties bring advantages to both parties and we would like to exploit and extend them. Brazil has weathered the worst storms of the world economic crisis and made a particularly rapid recovery. Economic growth of 5% is being forecast for Brazil in 2010. The subsidiaries of many German companies in Brazil, which are particularly numerous here in São Paulo, have largely survived the crisis in good shape. Many German companies have further increased their investments in Brazil because of the resilience of their Brazilian subsidiaries. I am very pleased for Brazil. However, I am also pleased for Germany, because when business abroad is going well that is also good for jobs at home.

As Foreign Minister I intend to support German business with every means at my disposal: by promoting external economic affairs, backing this up with policies and using the tools of economic cooperation. I intend to pursue external economic promotion not with timidity but with vigour, so that it becomes firmly anchored in German foreign policy.

Soon after taking office I saw to it that strategies were conceptualized aimed at enhancing Germany’s external economic policy. We want to open up external economic promotion to other sectors and make it more attractive to them. Promoting smaller and medium-sized companies is particularly important in my view, for these form the backbone of the German economy. The Brazilian economy has made considerable progress along the consolidation road. The middle class is growing fast and with it the internal market. We want to make the opportunities that are opening up in this market accessible to still more small and medium-sized businesses. Lending support to such companies will also be a focus of my foreign policy.

There are great opportunities ahead for Brazil in view of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. We want to show active support for Brazil by sharing our own experiences of preparing for large-scale sporting events. German companies can play a key role in transferring knowledge. Infrastructure development offers particular opportunities here. The Brazilian Government has put together a special package to promote infrastructure development. Whether we are talking about road and stadium construction, public transport systems, modernizing the air- and seaports or the rail- and waterways, German companies can make a major contribution. They can also apply their expertise when it comes to tourism marketing and security planning for large-scale events. We like to stand by our friends as they welcome guests.

German business was responsible for initiating the WinWin Initiative 2014/16. Within this framework German companies are coming together to prepare for potential projects in connection with the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games. Needless to say, this Chamber of Commerce Abroad, is one of the partners in the project. I am delighted that the Chairman of this initiative, Dr Zoller, is accompanying me on this tour. Dr Zoller is not only a high profile entrepreneur but also Chairman of the “Brazil Board” of the Federation of German Industries. The Brazil Board is there to support the long-term expansion of our economic relations with Brazil and is only the second of its kind, after the US Board, to be established by German industry. This demonstrates how much significance is attached to German-Brazilian economic relations and how closely our economies are linked.

We want to use these close economic ties as a basis for closer political cooperation and here will be exploring new avenues. The impressive developments that have taken place in Brazil make new cooperation projects both possible and necessary. President Lula da Silva himself spoke of a “third phase” in German-Brazilian relations when he visited Germany in December last year. He said that after German immigration to Brazil in the 19th century and the industrialization of the country – with the German car industry acting as catalyst – in the 20th century, the two countries were now entering the third phase of cooperation. I would like to take up this idea:

In this third phase we want to continue to expand existing areas of cooperation and also explore new ones.

1. Winning future markets together

Increasing economic clout brings with it the need for modern infrastructure, clean energy and reliable public safety. Issues such as climate change and biodiversity come to the fore. We are looking towards the sustainable use of raw materials, to developing new environmental technology and cooperating on climate issues.

Brazil has major reserves of raw materials, immense rainforests that are vital for the global climate and also real potential for renewable energies. We have cutting-edge technology with the label “Made in Germany”. We must bring the two together. This could result in significant cooperation projects of benefit to both partners.

2. Learning from one another

If we want to shape a common future we must address the three issues of education, research and innovation. There already exist many academic partnerships with German universities and research institutions. In addition the staff responsible for setting up the German Innovation and Science Forum have recently begun their work in this very same building. This initiative is being promoted by the Federal Foreign Office and I am convinced that the German Innovation and Science Forum will make a particularly significant contribution to German-Brazilian cooperation.

None of these projects is meant to stand alone, rather they all contribute to a broad, overarching political strategy. What we want to achieve are close and broad-based relations with Brazil that extend beyond the purely economic sphere and are sustainable both politically and socially.

3. Assuming global responsibility together

Brazil’s growing economic and political clout makes cooperation possible on a worldwide level that benefits both countries. The shared goal of our efforts must be to give globalization a set of values and rules so that peace and security are safeguarded in the long term.

The global economic and financial crisis has not led to a slowing down or halt in the globalization process. The effects of the economic and financial crisis are, in fact, the expression of an advancing globalization. Events that take place in far-flung corners of the globe directly affect us. The same rule applies to the economy and financial affairs, the environment, climate change, energy and food: we can only achieve sustainable solutions together if we cooperate at a global level. This kind of cooperation between Brazil and Germany should be a cornerstone of our bilateral relations.

We need to work together on defusing conflicts before they escalate, using preventive foreign policy. In order to do this we need to address the roots of these problems. Where are conflicts more likely to arise owing to a scarcity of resources? How can we use our foreign policy and economic tools to prevent these conflicts? Our foreign policy must prevent global problems turning into global crises. Today foreign policy must ensure that globalization develops according to a set of rules and values. Here we see Latin America as a logical choice of partner, because we share the same fundamental values.

In Germany many still underestimate the significance of German-Brazilian relations and the Federal Government’s new Latin American policy. Here in São Paulo we see it being lived out.

There are only a handful of cities in the world that have such a close network of German organizations as here. Alongside your institution and over 800 German companies in the region, São Paulo has particularly strong German schools. Amongst them is the world’s largest German school abroad, the Colégio Visconde de Porto Seguro in São Paulo, which I am due to visit. The close cooperation between German businesses and schools has particularly impressed me. Here in São Paulo the Chamber of Commerce and German companies offer vocational training according to the German dual system, in tandem with the Colégio Humboldt. I am pleased that this system, which enjoys such an excellent reputation worldwide, is also being applied here.

Alongside the large group of people of German descent, these institutions, by communicating German language and culture, also play their part in building an even closer network of relations, including beyond the purely economic sphere.

The German Government wants to expand this work, too. Yesterday evening I spoke to President Lula here in São Paulo about our wish to make 2013 the Year of Germany in Brazil. He confirmed me in my conviction to go ahead with the project. I invite you all to take an active part in the planning.

With my visit, Brazil will now feature prominently on the German Government’s foreign-policy agenda, from the beginning right to the end of this legislative period in 2013. This is commensurate with the importance of German-Brazilian relations – so obvious to everyone here – within Federal Government foreign policy.

However, it is not only down to the governments of our two countries to breathe new life into the action plan for the strategic partnership. I am counting on you all. This Chamber of Commerce will, as one of the largest and most important of its kind, continue to play a crucial role. It acts as a linchpin, ensuring harmonious liaison between our economies. You may rest assured that the Federal Government will do everything in its power to assist you.

Thank you for your attention.

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