as a partner for the security and stability of Europe, its neighbourhood, and other regions of the world
01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas
RELEVANCE: How relevant is Brazil to Germany in terms of ensuring security and stability in Europe, neighbouring countries and other regions of the world?
Brazil is the largest country in South America, the fifth-largest country in the world, and the largest economy in . It also accounts for more than 60 percent of the Amazon tropical rainforest, the world’s largest, and includes a large proportion of renewables in its mix. The country’s geographical location, size, economic significance and the importance of preserving its natural resources in the fight against the global climate crisis all underpin the central role Brazil plays in ensuring and maintaining global climate, energy and food .
In South America, Brazil has long functioned as a mediator in conflicts and an advocate of shared solutions for security and defence consolidation. The key security policy focus in the region is on internal turmoil within individual countries and on efforts to encourage non-expansionism. Participation in peacekeeping activities is of fundamental importance for Brazil’s military: Brazil distinguished itself in this regard by commanding the UN mission in Haiti, and also the Maritime Task Force of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (FTM-UNIFIL) from February 2011 to January 2021, for example, and also in accepting refugees from Venezuela.
One of the key aspects relating to Brazil’s borders that impact on the international security situation involves controlling the illegal flow of weapons and the drug trade. Criminals use Brazil mainly as a transit country in order to organise transport to Europe. Cooperation between security authorities is all the more important in this regard.
Brazil has good relations with many countries in Africa. Agreements on technical cooperation are in place with the Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa in particular. Its relations with NATO are also the expression of interests it shares with the other side of the Atlantic – an area that guarantees the free movement of goods, information and .
In January 2022, Brazil began its eleventh term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, and took over as chair of the rotating component. Together with Germany, Japan and India, Brazil is an active participant in the G4, which is campaigning for reform of the UN Security .
A guarantee of stability and security in Brazil and its neighbourhood is of great importance for Germany in view of the long-standing economic partnership between Germany and Brazil, in addition to the overarching goals of sustainability and the suppression of .
WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Brazil willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?
The current government of Brazil, which includes many members of the military, treats security as one of its headline items in official exchanges. Its priority, however, is on internal security. To maintain its internal security, for example, it introduced new guidelines for its national intelligence service policy in 2021. With regard to the internationally important theme of climate security, mention must be made of the Amazon Fund, established in 2008, which supports projects to reduce deforestation. The investments financed by Germany and Norway have been suspended since April 2019; according to comments by Vice-President Hamilton Mourão, the country is prepared to cooperate in order to revive the fund, but action is still awaited. The healthcare and economic crisis caused by Covid-19 in Brazil, and the deep polarisation of the country, set the tone for President Jair Bolsonaro’s nationalistic speeches, which often have an anti-globalisation and anti-cooperation flavour. Presidential elections will be held in Brazil in October of this year, the outcome of which cannot be predicted at this stage. It will be interesting to see how the newly elected government will act at that point.
STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and Brazil’s current cooperation in this area?
There is strong interest in cooperation between Germany and Brazil in the area of climate security.
Brazil is Germany’s most important economic partner in Latin America. While Brazilian investment in German companies is relatively low, German direct investment in Brazil recently amounted to €18 billion. Brazil is the only country in Latin America with which Germany has entered into a strategic partnership. Globally, special economic relations of this nature are in place only with seven other countries, including China, the US and India. Underlying this is the effort to intensify relations with strategically important economic powers, through regular consultations at a governmental level, for . Specifically against the background of the war in Europe, these relationships could be important as a means of further bolstering cooperation in questions of energy and food security, since Brazil is one of the suppliers of crude oil, gas and raw materials on the world market.
POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Brazil in this area?
Brazil is a country with leadership aspirations in South America, a region that is increasingly influenced by China (with Brazilian exports worth US$35 billion annually) and, previously, by the US (US$27 billion) and the UK (US$28 billion). In the context of German foreign and security policy, it is strategically important not to abandon its presence to other powers, and for it to invest in a strategic partnership with a regional power such as Brazil. With a trade volume of more than €14 billion (2020), Germany is currently placed fourth among Brazil’s top trading . It is worth noting that the country’s top partners right now are China and the European Union. For Germany and Brazil, therefore, it is important to further expand their close economic cooperation to enable Germany to gain an even stronger position in the competition among the world’s powers for influence in Latin America.
The vast territory of Brazil also satisfies an important precondition for increasing agricultural production. The country is currently the world’s third-largest exporter of foodstuffs – and Germany, in turn, is one of the largest . That makes Brazil an important player in securing the growing global demand for foodstuffs and energy. Brazil is also the world’s third-largest generator of energy from renewables, offering the greatest potential for bioenergy production worldwide, in addition to ideal sunlight all year round and space to install solar and wind power systems. Maintaining good relations with Brazil is therefore very important in terms of food and energy security, which has gained new relevance on account of the war situation in Ukraine.
With regard to digitalisation, Brazil is also a partner of interest to Germany and also the wider EU in the area of cyber security, with which they can work to press forward with digital infrastructure projects such as the construction of an undersea cable between Europe and Latin America. Brazil is also an advocate in multilateral forums for the creation of a rule-based digital world order, and calls for actions to ensure responsible behaviour in .
POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?
Latin America does not rate as highly in Germany’s foreign policy as it should, based on its size, strategic importance and economic potentials. Instead, Asia, Africa and the Middle East are at the top of the agenda on account of security questions and international challenges such as migration.
In the medium and long term, Latin America and Brazil are of strategic importance in terms of energy and food security, and also global climate protection efforts. According to UN data, the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion in 2050, or an increase of 26 .Economic growth in emerging markets has led to dramatic growth in the middle class worldwide: While this bracket included 3.6 billion people in 2019, the estimated total for 2030 is 5 billion, which will increase demand for food and energy, and necessitate sustainable solutions to accommodate this .
Countries such as Brazil that have these resources will become strategic partners as a result. China has recognised this fact and is already investing hugely in the region. The US also has ties to Brazil and the rest of Latin America for geographical reasons. In fact, Brazilian diplomacy has always had a global, multilateral orientation – the current government is an exception, which leaves plenty of room in the medium term for even closer relations with Germany and the European Both Brazil and Germany have a special interest in collaborating on developing an energy partnership. It would therefore be desirable for German foreign policy to continue treating Brazil as an important partner in matters of security policy. The various federal states making up Brazil could also be partners of interest to Germany in this regard.
Anja Czymmeck heads the KAS office in Brazil.
02 — Foreign Office
Auslandsbüro in Brasilien
Rua Guilhermina Guinle, 163, Botafogo
22270-060 Rio de Janeiro - RJ
04 — The region
The strategic partnership between the EU and Latin America was established as part of the first European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-LAC) Summit in June 1999. The principle underlying the strategy and the subsequent association and partnership agreements with individual countries and regions on the South American continent was the assumption that the EU and the countries of Latin America are united by many shared values and interests.
- Population: 19.450.953
- Capital: Santiago de Chile
Brazil is the largest country in South America, the fifth-largest country in the world, and the largest economy in Latin America. It also accounts for more than 60 percent of the Amazon tropical rainforest, the world’s largest, and includes a large proportion of renewables in its energy mix. The country’s geographical location, size, economic significance and the importance of preserving its natural resources in the fight against the global climate crisis all underpin the central role Brazil plays in ensuring and maintaining global climate, energy and food security.
- Population: 212.559.417
- Capital: Brasilia
In the context of the competition between political systems involving Russia, China and the western democracies, Colombia is of significant strategic importance to Germany and to Europe as a whole, both as a partner in values and as a regional anchor of stability. In terms of population size, economic power, geographical size and wealth of resources, it is one of the most important countries in Latin America.
- Population: 50.882.891
- Capital: Bogota
In connection with organised crime, drug trafficking, and the infiltration of the state by criminal groups, Mexico – a regional leader and member of the G20 – is facing major challenges that affect both internal and regional security. In view of the cross-border effects of organised crime in Mexico, which extends far beyond the American continent, migration from Central America and other regions of the world through Mexico towards the USA, the significant economic potential as a manufacturing base offering a well-qualified workforce and privileged access to the US market via the North American Free-Trade Area, Mexico is of great importance for the stability of the region.
- Population: 128.932.753
- Capital: Mexiko-Stadt
Costa Rica generates nearly 100 percent of its electricity consumption from renewable energy sources. The country is also considered a leader in nature conservation. More than 25 percent of Costa Rica’s land is devoted today to nature conservation areas. With its Decarbonisation Plan, adopted in 2018 with an implementation deadline of 2050, the country is setting important standards and leading the way both regionally and internationally. Currently, the Environmental Commission of the Costa Rican Parliament is working on a bill that would officially ban oil and gas exploration and extraction in the country. Against this backdrop, Costa Rica can undoubtedly be considered a major player when it comes to safeguarding significant resources and protecting the climate.
- Population: 5.185.625
- Capital: San José
Peru is an exception in Latin America in terms of its enormous wealth of resources and biodiversity. The country has three large landscape zones: the coast, most of which is covered by desert, the Andes and the jungle region. According to the World Resource Institute, Peru is one of only eight megadiverse countries in the world, possessing 84 of the 104 existing life zones. 76 percent of the country is occupied by rainforest, which means that the country has the largest share of the Amazon rainforest after Brazil.
- Population: 32,971,854
- Capital: Lima
Mexico is the second-largest economy in Latin America, and is a member of the G20, the OECD and the WTO. After the USA and China, the European Union is its third-most important trading partner. Given its geographic proximity to the US and the economic, cultural and social interrelationships between the two countries, especially as part of the successor to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) which came into force in July 2020 – the Tratado comercial entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá (T-MEC) – Mexico plays a special part in this economic context.
- Population: 128,932,753
- Capital: Mexico City
According to official data from the Colombian migration authorities, approximately 1.8 million of the more than 4 million Venezuelan migrants are currently in Colombia.Commuters and so-called “transit migrants“ are not included in these statistics, which means that their actual number is probably even higher.
- Population: 50,882,891
- Capital: Bogota
In comparison to other Latin American countries and despite its modest size, Uruguay serves as a model in view of its impressive political and socio-economic achievements . In a region that is not always stable, the country can look back on a long democratic-republican tradition with functioning institutions and a diverse media landscape. According to the latest edition of The Economist‘s Democracy Index, Uruguay is currently the most democratic country in Latin America and is ranked 15th worldwide.
- Population: 3,473,730
- Capital: Montevideo
Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and, with a GDP of approximately 1,5 trillion US dollars, is one of the most important emerging markets in the world. The country has a domestic market of 214 million inhabitants and is rich in natural resources.
- Population: 212,559,417
- Capital: Brasilia