Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the German-Brazilian Business Forum in Munich

31.05.2010 - Speech

Ladies and gentlemen,

It matters to me very much that I am here at this Forum. My presence should underline the importance the Federal Government attaches to its relations with Brazil.

That this Forum has attracted so much interest is a measure of the relevance of German-Brazilian economic relations. With a trade volume of nearly 20 billion euro, Germany is one of Brazil’s most important trading partners, and Brazil is Germany’s most important trade partner in Latin America. These close economic ties bring great advantages to both parties, and we would like to exploit and extend them.

Brazil has proved in recent years to be a resounding success story. It has weathered the worst storms of the world economic crisis and made a particularly rapid recovery. A rate of economic growth of more than 6% is forecast for the country for 2010. I am very pleased for Brazil, but I am also pleased for Germany, because when business abroad is going well it is also good for jobs at home.

German business has been active in Brazil for nearly half a century. However from the start the emphasis was not on making a quick profit but on long-term commitment and cooperation between Germany and Brazil. Germany will continue to be a reliable partner for Brazil in the future. We want to stand by Brazil as it expands and advances and, where we can, contribute to shaping these developments.

In this the Federal Government also remains steadfastly committed to the German economy. Latin America is a key element of German foreign policy. As Foreign Minister I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the list of items on the foreign policy agenda is long; but foreign policy is also about external economic promotion. Sound foreign policy must, of course, also take into account our global economic interests –for the sake of our country’s prosperity.

The Federal Government wants to put its relations with Latin American and the Caribbean states on a new footing, based on a comprehensive approach. The preparations for this are proceeding apace and have almost reached completion. This overarching strategy will provide the foundation for tailor-made strategies for individual countries.

New ideas are expected 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 Latin America policy.

Finally, in 2013, we will celebrate the Year of Germany in Brazil. I am delighted that President Lula responded so positively to this project during my visit. Our aspiration is to present our country in all its diversity and so continue to advance German-Brazilian cooperation in business, science and culture. Here we are not so much concerned with improving intergovernmental contacts as with promoting closer friendship between our nations. You are all warmly invited to contribute your ideas and suggestions. For relations at a political level can only succeed if they are not formed exclusively by politicians and governments. We are not starting at zero. Germany and Brazil are strategic partners. We can already look back on successes in our cooperation.

At the end of last year the German-Brazilian energy agreement came into force, which forms the political basis for closer cooperation on energy between Germany and Brazil. Germany and Brazil want to join together to advance the development of renewable energies, increase energy efficiency and introduce new technologies to the market. Here we can both complement, and learn a lot from each other.

Brazil has major reserves of raw materials, immense rainforests that are vital for the global climate, and also real potential with respect to renewable energies. Today Brazil already draws about half its energy from renewable resources and is indisputably Number One when it comes to biomass energy. We have cutting-edge technology with the label “Made in Germany”. We must bring the two together. This could result in significant cooperation projects that are of benefit to both partners.

We need technologies that bridge the gap until we have come of age as far as renewable energies are concerned. Here, too, Germany and Brazil are working closely together. The Brazilian power station Angra III will be completed after more than ten years using German power plant technology. The Federal Government gave an export credit guarantee in February. Since April this year we have been celebrating the German-Brazilian Year of Science, Technology and Innovation. This offers us the opportunity to review our partnership in this field over past decades.

There are many academic partnerships and also increased cooperation in vocational training. In conjunction with German schools in Brazil, German companies offer vocational training according to the German dual system, which is then also recognized here. The involvement of the companies does not end with the training. Brazilian skilled workers also have the opportunity to receive further training with a practice-oriented focus in Germany. Providing similar opportunities for continuing education to German skilled workers with partner companies in Brazil would certainly also be enormously beneficial in terms of broadening the horizons of German employees.

With the German Innovation and Science Forum in São Paulo – one of the most important centres for science in Latin America – we want to establish a contact point that will contribute significantly to expanding relations in the fields of research and science.

None of these projects is meant to stand alone, rather they all contribute to a broad, overarching political strategy. We seek lasting, close and broad-based relations with Brazil that are economically, politically and socially robust. As an export nation it is important to maintain close relations with many different regions of the world. I feel that our relations with Brazil carry enormous potential. Numerous prospects for further cooperation between Germany and Brazil are opening up and the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 present Brazil with golden opportunities. These are also prospects for closer German-Brazilian cooperation. 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. 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. When our friends welcome guests we like to be there with them.

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. The Federation of German Industries (BDI) set up the “Brazil Board”. It is only the second of its kind and is there to support the long-term expansion of our economic relations with Brazil. This demonstrates the great importance attached to German-Brazilian economic relations and also how closely our economies are linked.

As Foreign Minister I intend to make my own contribution to successful German-Brazilian cooperation and I shall also support German business with every means at my disposal.

At present the Federal Foreign Office’s external economic affairs policy is being developed further. 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 this connection, as they form the backbone of the German economy.

As recently as March I visited Brazil with a business delegation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our Brazilian dialogue partners once more for the frank and in-depth exchange of views we shared as well as for their generous hospitality. We all felt very much at ease in Brazil.

To be there and sense the mood of optimism and the dynamism for growth was fascinating and enthralling. The Economist hit the nail on the head with its March cover “Brazil takes off”.

This dynamism is also the result of a shrewd setting of priorities by policy makers. The Brazilian Government has consistently promoted education and training for Brazil’s young people. Not all goals have yet been achieved but this investment in the future is already beginning to pay dividends. Moreover, Brazil relies on a growing middle class. Today consumption by private households is the most significant engine driving growth.

When our international partners achieve success by implementing an impressive modernization programme, then we Germans should take a very close look. The right approach for Germany, too, is to be more keenly focused on the future and less fixed on old ideas. For this reason the Federal Government gives education and research priority – including in the budget.

We want to use the close economic links between our countries as the basis for closer political agreement.

Brazil has become an international heavyweight and it is only a matter of time before young, emerging societies like Brazil will want to take their rightful place in the world. Brazil plays a major role in the United Nations, the G20, the World Trade Organization and in international climate negotiations. Germany and Brazil frequently pursue the same policies, whether it be in strengthening the UN, reworking the international financial architecture or joint efforts on global disarmament. Our ever closer cooperation at a global level is based on our traditionally strong bilateral ties, which we want to deepen further.

This brings me to the very essence of our relations, which is that we share fundamental common values. This is the best and surest tool for successful partnerships between countries. Those values 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 is what binds us together.

President Lula da Silva 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 in the 20th – with the German car industry acting as catalyst – the two countries were now entering a 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, explore new ones, and also take joint responsibility at an international level.

Today, 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.

Let me pick out a particular area of cooperation.

Close cooperation binds the group of 20 leading industrialized countries and emerging economies. Within the G20 we are working together to tackle the economic and financial crisis and coordinate a worldwide restructuring of the global financial architecture. We have already achieved several things. The reform of the World Bank has just been completed and the position of the emerging economies strengthened. The IMF is aiming to complete its reform process by the end of the year. Here, too, we will keep our promise to increase the status of the emerging economies.

The key focus of the G20 agenda is the reform of the financial markets. We must learn the right lessons from the crisis and reform the financial markets in such a way that this can never happen again. In the first place this is an appeal to all nations to manage their budgets responsibly. In addition our goal is to bring about an effective regulation of the financial markets. In the Federal Government’s view, the key to success lies in a pragmatic solution that helps prevent financial crises in the first place and also calls on those responsible to meet their share of the costs.

The shared goal of all our efforts must be to give globalization a set of values and rules so that peace and security are safeguarded in the long term. Here we see Brazil and the whole of Latin America as a logical choice of partner.

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