• Raw materials and skilled labour

    Lula in Berlin: German industry is calling for better access to Latin America’s natural resources and wants to poach highly skilled workers. The tussle over a free trade agreement with Mercosur continues.

    BERLIN/BRASÍLIA (Own report) – Ahead of the German-Brazilian government consultations in Berlin today, Monday, 4 December, German business has been pushing for a rapid expansion of economic relations between the two countries. Germany wants to expedite ratification of the free trade agreement with South America’s Mercosur alliance. Over the past ten years German industry has generally seen itself overtaken in Latin America by competitors, as a recent paper by the Latin America Committee of German Business (LADW) points out. The report says that German exports to the continent increased by just three per cent between 2012 and 2022, while US exports grew over the same period by 38 per cent and Chinese exports by as much as 87 per cent. German companies want this trend to change. It is not only about targeting Brazil as a sales market, but also a question of gaining access to Latin America’s raw materials and skilled human resources for deployment in German companies. This is the background to German industry’s push for the EU’s free trade agreement with Mercosur to be finally ratified after many years of talks. Brazil, on the other hand, has a different perspective, seeing itself as a representative of the Global South and increasingly opposing global Western dominance. Read more

  • EU’s Latin America Offensive (II)

    EU launches new Latin America offensive – against Russia and China – with a new Latin America strategy and the Commission President’s trip to the subcontinent.

    BRUSSELS/BUENOS AIRES/BRASÍLIA (Own report) – With a new Latin America strategy and the Commission President’s long-announced visit to four countries of the subcontinent, the EU has launched a new Latin America offensive. The strategy is intended to make up for Europe’s loss of influence in Latin America vis-à-vis China and to realign the region’s countries firmly on the side of the West in its power struggle against Russia. To achieve this, it is planning regular summit meetings between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). On her visit to Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico last week, Ursula von der Leyen was seeking to improve the EU’s access to Latin American natural resources – from lithium to green hydrogen. It is evident that resistance to European encroachment is getting stronger in Latin America – for example, against provisions of the EU free trade agreement with Mercosur that are unfavorable to its members. Resistance is also growing to the EU’s efforts to enforce measures to isolate Russia. In reference to Western wars, Brazil’s President Lula declared that international law applies “to everyone.” Read more

  • Baerbock’s Lectures (II)

    German Foreign Minister Baerbock’s first Latin American trip without success. No progress in quest for influence. Brazil deals Baerbock an open diplomatic rebuff.

    BERLIN/BRASÍLIA/BOGOTÁ/CIUDAD DE PANAMÁ (Own report) – German Foreign Minister Baerbock’s first Latin American trip ended last week in Brazil with a hefty rebuff and with no apparent success in Colombia or Panama. Talks on climate and energy policy had officially been the focus of her trip. Brazil should be motivated to protect its Amazon Forest. Colombia is earmarked as Germany’s future green hydrogen supplier, and Panama with its Canal as the hub for South American hydrogen exports. It is unknown, whether the foreign minister’s trip yielded concrete results. And it is also not clear what Baerbock had achieved in her quest to strengthen the West’s position in the USA’s fierce power struggle, ongoing since some time, against China’s growing influence in Panama. Her attempt to pressure Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his government to choose sides against Russia in the Ukraine war, has utterly failed. Lula and his foreign minister granted Baerbock neither a meeting, nor a joint press conference with another member of the government. Read more

  • “Balance World Geopolitics”

    G7 foreign ministers announce further intensification of sanctions against Russia. Brazil’s President Lula pushes for negotiated solution – with support from the Global South.

    BERLIN/KARUIZAWA/BRASÍLIA (Own report) – G7 foreign ministers announce further intensification of sanctions against Russia and are meeting growing opposition from several Global South countries calling for peace talks. At their meeting yesterday in Karuizawa, Japan, the G7 ministers agreed to “intensify” sanctions against Russia, to enforce their strict implementation also by third countries and, above all, to take effective measures against arms supplies for Russian troops – i.e., mainly Iranian drones. This decision was taken while, during his visits in China and the United Arab Emirates, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was exploring ways to bring about a peaceful settlement between Moscow and Kiev. The USA needs to stop encouraging the war and start to talk about peace,” Lula demanded, and called also on the EU to engage in peace talks. The dispute between the West and the Global South over how to handle the Ukraine war is taking on a principled character, with governments such as the Brazilian pushing for an end to Western hegemony. Read more

  • “On the Side of Diplomacy” (III)

    West will pressure Kiev to negotiate an end to the war in the fall, predicts the German Green Party’s parliamentary foreign policy spokesperson. Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia are already working toward peace.

    BERLIN/BEIJING/BRASÍLIA/RIYADH (Own report) – German Green Party Parliamentary Foreign Policy Spokesperson Jürgen Trittin, predicts that, in the fall, the West will put heavy pressure on Ukraine to negotiate with Russia to end the war. The US administration recently sent out signals to this effect, Trittin reported. It would be unwise to continue the support for Kiev in the coming presidential elections, due to a change of mood within the US population. While this is an indication that Kiev must change course, several countries outside the transatlantic West are intensifying their mediation for a ceasefire. Brazil continues to promote peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Following his visits to Kiev and Moscow, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud confirmed that Riyadh is also pursuing such activities. According to reports, China’s President Xi Jinping is expected to arrive soon for talks in Russia and to subsequently hold talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Unlike the West, Zelensky already welcomes the negotiation initiatives. Read more

  • “On the Side of Diplomacy”

    Brazil rejects Berlin's call for arms deliveries to Ukraine and aims to mediate in the Ukraine war – together with other countries of the Global South.

    BRASÍLIA/BERLIN (Own report) – In open defiance of Germany and the other Western powers, Brazil rejects all arms deliveries to Ukraine and pushes, instead, for a mediation initiative to end the Ukraine war. Brazil sees itself as a “land of peace” and rejects any involvement in this war, was President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s response Monday to Berlin's demand during German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's visit, that ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft tank be provided to Kiev. Rather than constantly fueling the war with ever more weapons, a mediation initiative must be launched, with the possible contribution from China, in particular, but also from India and Indonesia, according to Lula. Scholz does not support such an initiative from the Global South to end the fighting and raised his objections on Monday. However, more and more governments, particularly in the Global South, such as, most recently Columbia and Egypt, but also Israel are promoting a negotiated solution. Thus, a counterpoint is becoming apparent to the West's efforts to continue to assert its global dominance in and with the Ukraine war. Read more

  • On Crumbling Ground

    In Brazil, Berlin seeks to expand cooperation with Lula, to make up for its loss of influence in that country. Think tank discerns growing distance between EU und Latin America.

    BRASÍLIA/BERLIN (Own report) – Berlin reacted with relief, when the movement to overthrow the Brazilian government was crushed. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz affirms “we stand closely by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.” According to reports, Scholz is planning to visit the South American country soon. Berlin is seeking to use the changeover in the Brazilian presidency from Jair Messias Bolsonaro to Lula to bolster German influence in Brazil, which has been significantly declining over the past years. As a recent analysis of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) notes, the German government must face the fact that Berlin's and the EU's policy have led to serious friction, not only in Brazil, but also throughout Latin America, over the past few years. Its refusal to supply Covid-19 vaccines, while simultaneously campaigning against Chinese vaccines, for example, has not exactly aroused sympathy for the EU. The policy of sanctions against Russia is also rejected on the subcontinent. SWP explicitly warns, “common ground is crumbling.” Read more

  • BERLIN/BRUSSELS/BRASÍLIA (Own report) - The German export industry hails the free trade agreement between the EU and South America's Mercosur trade block. The agreement concluded at the end of last week, following 20 years of negotiations, will drastically lower the tariffs that have been protecting the industries of the four Mercosur member nations, including Brazil. Exporters from the EU will thus obtain access to these countries. According to the EU Commission, this will save €4 billion in tariffs benefiting, largely, German enterprises, the EU's major Mercosur suppliers. Conversely, the agreement opens the EU's agricultural markets to the South American agro-industry - to the detriment, in particular, of French and Irish farmers. In fact, Berlin has imposed the agreement in spite of resistance from Paris. Protest is also being raised in South America, with trade unions warning that it could be a "death sentence" for the local industry, reducing Mercosur to a colonial status of raw materials supplier for the EU and sales market for European companies. Read more

  • BERLIN (Own report) - With a Latin America-Caribbean Conference, the German Foreign Ministry is launching a new political offensive in the struggle for influence in Latin America. Germany and the EU's influence on the subcontinent has been stagnating, while China's importance is growing. The government hopes to counteract this development by helping German companies to increase their opportunities in Latin America - and this at a time when massive protest is being raised against German companies' activities, for example, in Brazil. The Brazilian judiciary has currently taken action against the Technical Control Board (TÜV) South, for its alleged complicity in a dam burst in January of this year, killing more than 250 people. Brazilian activists are also accusing the Bayer and BASF companies of selling agricultural poisons in their country, which are banned in the EU. Over the past decade, more than 2,000 people have died in Brazil from agrochemicals. Berlin is also envisaging the inclusion of Latin American countries into NATO structures. Read more

  • BERLIN/BRASÍLIA/BOGOTÁ (Own report) - Under pretext of rallying "allies for human rights," Germany's Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas (SPD) will meet the two most right-wing presidents of South America. His interlocutor on Tuesday, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, is an avowed supporter of Brazil's military dictatorship. Already within the first month of his incumbency, police murders have drastically increased in his country. Columbia's President Iván Duque, whom Maas will meet thereafter, opposes the peace treaty with the FARC insurgents. Over the past two and a half years, more than 300 government opponents have been assassinated in that country - in most cases with impunity. While the foreign ministry is speaking of having a "foundation of shared values" with Bolsonaro and Duque, Berlin is actually seeking to rally allies in its struggle against China and Russia and to strengthen its position in Latin America vis-à-vis Washington. It is also striving to obtain access to sanctions-proof markets for Germany's export industry. Read more