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Germany's Olaf Scholz kicks off South America trip

January 28, 2023

The German chancellor will visit Argentina, Chile and Brazil in a bid to forge stronger economic ties. Over 1,000 German firms are currently doing business in Brazil alone.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz boards his flight to South America at Berlin-Brandenburg airport
Olaf Scholz hopes to strengthen German business ties in South America, as Russia and China make inroads in the regionImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz departed Europe for South America on Saturday, where he will visit the region's top three economies.

Scholz will land in Argentina later on Saturday, where he will meet Argentine President Alberto Fernandez in Buenos Aires. 

On Sunday, he will stop in Chile before embarking on a two-day visit to Brazil.

Scholz will meet with leftist Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula, who was sworn in on January 1.

Lula's administration is dealing with the aftermath of a failed insurrection in the capital, Brasilia, where supporters of former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court.

Brazil's Lula vows justice for capital attack

What does Scholz hope to achieve? 

One aim of Scholz's visit is to forge stronger German business ties with the South American countries, with a German business delegation accompanying the chancellor. 

Over 1,000 German firms are currently doing business in Brazil alone, most notably Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and ThyssenKrupp. 

Peter Adrian, the president of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), has urged the ratification of the EU-Mercosur trade deal. Mercosur nations include Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. 

Brazil's Lula has recently pledged to finalize the deal, which would create the world's largest free-trade zone. The German government hopes to invigorate the ratification process during Scholz's trip.

German energy needs will also be a focus of the trip. Germany has had to diversify its energy sources due to Russia's war on Ukraine, with Berlin deciding to wean itself off Russian gas. 

South America is rich in minerals such as iron, steel and copper, along with lithium, which is integral to the manufacturing of eco-friendly electric vehicles

Lithium — A crucial raw material

wd/rs (Reuters, AFP, dpa)    

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