Categories: World

German Chancellor starts trip to South America to strengthen trade and environmental relations

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives in Argentina this Saturday (28) to start his first trip to South America, as his government seeks to reduce Germany’s economic dependence on China and strengthen relations with democracies around the world.

On the three-day trip, Scholz, a social democrat, will visit the region’s three main economies – Argentina, Chile and Brazil – all currently led by leftist leaders in the region’s new “pink tide”.

High on the negotiating agenda will be the war in Ukraine and the lessons learned from it – including for Berlin, a greater awareness of the need to reduce economic dependence on authoritarian states.

Germany’s reliance on gas from Russia has triggered an energy crisis after relations deteriorated with the Kremlin invasion.

Europe in general is racing to reduce its dependence, in particular on China, for critical minerals essential for the transition to a carbon-neutral economy – minerals in which South America is rich.

“These three countries are interesting partners for the diversification of our economic relations in general, but also our supply of commodities,” a German government official said on Friday.

On competition from China, which has invested heavily in the region over the last decade, the official said that Germany simply needs to be more active and also more prepared to embrace sectors it has previously shied away from.

“For example, lithium mining – it is a challenging task, especially in relation to the environment and social standards. And in the past we’ve probably avoided that […] but we cannot afford that luxury if we want to support ourselves. ”

Argentina and Chile are at the top of the so-called “lithium triangle” of South America, which contains the world’s greatest treasure trove of metal for ultralight batteries.

The Chancellor will be accompanied by a delegation of about a dozen businessmen from different sectors, in addition to the Deputy Minister of Economy, Franziska Brantner.

In Brazil, the last leg of the trip, Scholz will be accompanied by the Minister of Development, Svenja Schulze, given the new impetus for joint projects since the election of Lula, who promised a reformulation of Brazilian climate policy.

Deforestation in the Amazon has reached its highest levels in 15 years under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula’s new focus could help pave the way for a free trade agreement between the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur – an issue that is also on the agenda of Scholz’s talks with regional leaders.

EU ambassadors have previously told Brazil that the free trade agreement with Mercosur, agreed in principle in 2019, will not be ratified unless concrete steps are taken to stop the increasing destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Scholz’s visit is also a strong show of support for Lula after Bolsonaro supporters looted government buildings on January 8, just a week after his inauguration.

The chancellor is going to talk about it, in addition to visiting the memorials of the victims of the military dictatorships in Argentina and Chile.

Source: CNN Brasil

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