German President Joachim Gauck is in Brazil seeking to strengthen trade ties with a key German partner; he and President Dilma Rousseff have officially opened a special Germany-themed year in Brazil.
German President Joachim Gauck and Brazil's Dilma Rousseff started Brazil's "Deutschland-Jahr" year-long schedule that incorporates as many as 400 cultural, economic and scientific appointments in the coming months.
Gauck and Rousseff appeared at the opening of a German-Brazilian trade conference in Sao Paolo late on Monday.
The German president praised long-standing and stable bilateral trade ties. Gauck said that Volkswagen's partnership with Brazil had proved so successful over the years that many in Brazil considered VW a "domestic legacy brand." He also lamented that too few Germans knew that author Thomas Mann should dedicate "his artistic streak to his mother who was born in Brazil."
Brazil is Germany's largest trading partner in Latin America, with the value of bilateral trade expanding rapidly in recent years. Gauck said further progress could be made, with "our shared values the foundation for this."
He also issued a carefully-worded appeal to "continue to improve the conditions for free trade and exchange" in Brazil, saying that Brazilian companies operating in the EU already profit from the bloc's open trading policies.
Rousseff referred to trade ties between the two countries as among the "most successful" in the world and trumpeted her efforts to reduce public debt in front of business leaders in Sao Paolo on Monday. She also detailed a government infrastructure investment plan, hoping to tempt new businesses to try the waters.
One unattainable shared ambition
Despite the start of a special partnership year and Gauck's more typical remit to put Germany's best international foot forward, the German president conceded in Sao Paolo that the two countries had one shared but irreconcilable target.
"One of the things we have in common is however a problem," Gauck said. "Brazilians and Germans both want to win the football World Cup. We will likely not be able to accomplish this together." Brazil's last World Cup glory in 2002 came at Germany's expense.
Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup, this summer's soccer Confederation Cup, and the 2016 summer Olympics.
Prior to his trip to Brazil, Gauck visited Colombia.
msh/jm (AFP, dpa)