German Chancellor Olaf Scholz begins his first trip to the region in Argentina to deepen political and economic ties
The foreign minister will meet this Saturday with Argentine President Alberto Fernández and Economy Minister Sergio Massa. On Sunday morning he will leave for Chile and on Monday for Brazil
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends a session of the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany January 25, 2023 (Reuters)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz begins his firsthis first trip to Argentina, Chile and Brazil, with energy diversification, renewable energy, the fight against climate change and the defense of multilateralism as central points on his agenda.
The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, will receive the German Chancellor on an express visit this Saturday. According to sources from the Argentine Presidency and Foreign Ministry, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Santiago Cafiero, will receive Scholz at the Ezeiza international airport (Buenos Aires province) on Saturday afternoon and from there they will go to the monument to General José de San Martín in the capital, where they will make the traditional floral offering.
Later, Scholz will head to the Palacio de San Martín, headquarters of the Argentine Foreign Ministry, to meet Alberto Fernández; and he will culminate his visit by participating in a meeting of Argentine and German businessmen, which will also be attended by the Argentine Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa .
Germany is one of Argentina's main trading partners within the European Union: the South American country exported goods for 884 million dollars and made purchases for another 2,719 million in 2022, which resulted in a trade deficit for Argentina of 1,835 million dollars, according to official figures.
The main products exported by Argentina were beef, inorganic chemical products, raw silver, combed wool and natural honey.
On August 24, the Argentine Foreign Minister held a meeting with the Secretary of State of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Tobias Lidner, in which they agreed to promote renewable energy development projects, such as green hydrogen.
Previously, in the framework of the G7 meeting that was held in Germany, Fernández spoke with Scholz about the impact of the war in Ukraine “on the world's food and energy,” according to what he said then the Argentine president on Twitter.
In May, both leaders held another meeting in Berlin in which they discussed the effects of the war and the relationship between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Argentine President Alberto Ángel Fernández (left) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hold a joint press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on May 11, 2022. (AFP)
Another of the key aspects of this Saturday's meeting between Fernández and Scholz will be the trade agreement between the two blocs, which is still pending ratification.
After passing through Argentina, the head of the German government will visit Chile and Brazil, as part of a tour of South America which aims to deepen political and economic ties with the region.
The relevance of the region
According to the German government spokesman, Streffen Hebestreit , the trip “underlines the relevance of the region as a partner”, an aspect that Valeska Hesse, head of the Department of Latin America and the Caribbean of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), related to the Scholz's Social Democratic Party (SPD).
That the chancellor is now embarking on a trip to these three countries is for Hesse “a very important and positive sign” to underline that the region, which has not really received enough attention for many years, “now also has a greater importance and priority for Germany and the EU.”
The points that Scholz will address have been important for years, but now they are once again relevant in the “context of the 'Zeitenwende'” -change to a new era precipitated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine- and the search for “new partners” and “strategic alliances”.
“People have realized that we have to look more towards other countries and regions where we have reliable partners”, he stressed.
He recalled that in general most Latin American countries are democracies, with all the challenges that naturally exist in these nations. And that when it comes to defending democracy against the rise of authoritarian regimes, Latin America is also an “ally”.
But in addition to issues of “common values” such as democracy and multilateralism, in economic issues such as energy, the diversification of energy suppliers, green hydrogen and raw materials, the region plays an important role, he added. There, cooperation should be designed so that Latin America also benefits, especially in sustainability issues, he stressed.
For Orlando Baquero, general director of the Association for Latin America (LAV) -business network for the economic sector with interests in that region-, Latin America, “after many years of little oblivion” is once again interesting for Europe.
He stressed to EFE that for the association it is important that talks resume “at the highest level”, especially with Brazil,the main country for German business in South America, with “enormous potential”. Brazil is a “strategic partner” in power generation, he stressed, and recalled that 85% of investments in renewables made by German companies are precisely in that country.
The visit to Argentina is, according to Baquero, equally important in that it is the second most important country in the region, despite having difficulties in many economic areas, and where everything points to the signing of a cooperation agreement for emerging companies and innovation, he said.
Chile is a strategic partner in green hydrogen and renewables, but also in raw materials such as copper, necessary in the energy transition, and lithium, vital for batteries, he added.
Especially in Brazil, the issue of climate change and the protection of the Amazon will be another important issue< /b>, with Germany's perspective of unblocking the Amazon Fund after Lula's victory in the elections.