South America trip: Baerbock and Heil travel to Brazil

South America trip: Baerbock and Heil travel to Brazil

For the Foreign Minister, the first part of her trip to South America is not just about the core issues of Ukraine, climate and the environment. Together with the Minister of Labor she wants to take care of another problem.

Despite the partly different emphases in the Russian war against Ukraine, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is counting on a massive expansion of cooperation with Latin America. “Latin America and Europe are natural partners,” said the Green politician on Sunday in Berlin before leaving for a nearly one-week trip to Brazil, Colombia and Panama. “We live in democracies, are culturally close and stand up for an international system based on rules and human rights.”

Together with Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD), Baerbock also wants to try to recruit skilled workers in the care sector in Brazil this Monday and Tuesday. After the joint visit to the largest country in South America, Baerbock wants to travel to Colombia and Panama on Wednesday evening, and Heil will then return to Germany.

Russia, climate and care

Heil said before leaving that there was a great need for skilled workers in Germany, especially in qualified nursing professions, while there was a surplus of well-trained nursing staff in Brazil. This can create a win-win situation in which everyone benefits. Germany gets qualified specialists, Brazil benefits, “for example, because we are involved in on-site training”. Baerbock said: “Brazilian nurses and Colombian electricians are already finding open arms in Germany. We want to expand this partnership.”

Brazil is the only country in Latin America with which Germany has had a strategic partnership since 2008. The country with more than 200 million inhabitants is also Germany’s most important trading partner in South America.

For Baerbock, the focus of their talks in the capital, Brasilia, should be on the hosts’ relationship with the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, as well as the issues of climate and the environment. The new Brazilian government under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wants “to contribute Brazil’s strong voice in solving the most pressing global challenges,” she said. “We are united by the firm belief that there can only be prosperity if there is freedom and peace, even if we have different perspectives, as was the case recently with the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Lula wants a ‘peace club’

Lula has not yet clearly sided with Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He is campaigning for international mediation through a “peace club” that is said to include India, Indonesia and China as well as Brazil. During a visit to China in April, Lula caused considerable irritation in the USA and Europe by criticizing the military aid provided by NATO and other countries to Ukraine.

Baerbock advocated progress in negotiations on a free trade agreement with the Mercosur group of states, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Latin America is a “potential giant of the world economy” with which one wants to span a dense and sustainable network across the Atlantic. “The free trade agreement with the Mercosur countries would be a big step forward for this,” said the Foreign Minister. “If we make it sustainable and protect the rainforest effectively, it will set the necessary incentives and rules to make our regions pioneers of green and social transformation.”

The EU has been negotiating a free trade agreement with Mercosur since 1999, which would create one of the largest free trade zones in the world with more than 700 million people. The main problem is the protection of the Amazon forest. Large parts of this have already been cut down – especially for agriculture.

Source: Stern

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