For the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the first part of her trip to South America was not only about the core issues of Ukraine, climate and environment. Together with the Minister of Manpower he wants to take care of other problems.
Berlin (dpa) – Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is counting on a major expansion of cooperation with Latin America, despite the occasional different emphasis in Russia’s war against Ukraine. “Latin America and Europe are natural partners,” the Green politician said Sunday in Berlin before traveling for nearly a week to Brazil, Colombia and Panama. “We live in a democracy, are culturally close and support an international system based on rule and human rights.”
Together with the Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD), Baerbock also wants to try to recruit skilled workers in the maintenance sector in Brazil this Monday and Tuesday. After a joint visit to South America’s largest country, Baerbock is looking to travel to Colombia and Panama on Wednesday evening, Heil will then return to Germany.
Russia, climate and care
Before leaving, Heil said that there was a great need for skilled workers in Germany, especially in the qualified nursing profession, while in Brazil there was a surplus of trained nursing staff. From here you can create a win-win situation where everyone benefits. Germany gets qualified specialists, and Brazil benefits, “for example because we are engaged in on-site training.” Baerbock said: “A Brazilian nurse and a Colombian electrician have found open arms in Germany. We want to expand this partnership.”
Brazil is the only country in Latin America that has entered into a strategic partnership with Germany since 2008. This country of over 200 million people is also Germany’s most important trading partner in South America.
For Baerbock, the focus of their talks in the capital, Brasilia, will likely be the hosts’ ties to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, as well as climate and environmental issues. The new Brazilian government under President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva wants to “provide Brazil’s strong voice in solving the most pressing global challenges,” he said. “We are united by a firm belief that there can only be prosperity where there is freedom and peace, even if we have different perspectives, as happened recently with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”
Lula wants a ‘peace club’
Lula has not clearly sided with Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He is campaigning for international mediation through a “peace club” which 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 US and Europe by criticizing the military aid provided by NATO and other countries to Ukraine.
Baerbock advocated progress in negotiating a free trade agreement with the Mercosur group of countries, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Latin America is a “potential global economic giant” whose goal is to create a dense and sustainable network across the Atlantic. “A free trade agreement with Mercosur countries will be a big step forward,” said the Foreign Minister. “If we make it sustainable and protect rainforests effectively, it will set the necessary incentives and rules to make our region a pioneer of green and social transformation.”
The EU has been negotiating a free trade agreement with Mercosur since 1999, which will 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 jungle. Most of it has been logged – mainly for agriculture.
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