-- Translation of advance text --
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of Federal Minister Guido Westerwelle I would like to thank you for the invitation to this closing reception. This Conference of the Latin America Initiative of German Business provides companies from Germany and Latin America with a wonderful platform on which to engage and exchange views. The German Government is delighted to be involved in this dialogue.
Latin America and Europe are natural allies. We’re strategic partners in a globalized world. Our partnership is based on a solid foundation, that of shared values and close cultural ties. We share the same idea of freedom and the dignity of the individual, of democracy, the rule of law and the social market economy, of multilateralism and the relevance of international law. Despite the thousands of kilometres which separate us, Latin America and Europe are actually very close.
The EU Association Agreement with Central America passed by the European Parliament late last year is a new, positive element. Negotiations on the Association Agreement with Mercosur are ongoing. We will keep advocating a timely conclusion.
With its impressive economic growth, Latin America has also gained greater leverage and more self-confidence in the political sphere. We welcome this development and see Latin America’s rise as a great opportunity – an opportunity for more cooperation.
For no state and no region can master the global challenges on their own. We can only shape globalization if we have strong partners at our side.
The German Government has set itself the goal of taking relations between Germany and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to a new level. That was a strategic decision. We want to make even better use of the great potential offered by our cooperation – at bilateral level to our mutual benefit and at multilateral level in shared responsibility.
To take due account of the shifts in Latin America, the German Government drew up an interministerial strategy in 2010 focusing on the long-term development of Germany’s Latin America policy. The strategy takes the sub-continent’s growing economic and political weight into account and lends special quality to German-Latin American relations.
The shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law and human rights is a cornerstone of our successful cooperation. Consolidating and strengthening these shared values is thus crucial to Germany’s Latin America policy.
The growth decade in Latin America offers us major new opportunities. German businesses have good standing in Latin America and know the German Government is behind them. Its work to promote foreign trade and investment lends support to businesses for their projects and can serve as a door-opener.
Latin America has vast potential – let’s tap it together!