Diplomacy: Scholz for four days in South America

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is also counting on the Latin American states when condemning the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

Diplomacy: Scholz for four days in South America

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is also counting on the Latin American states when condemning the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. This war is "a blatant breach of international law and therefore not a purely European matter," Scholz told the Grupo de Diarios America media group at the beginning of a four-day trip to Argentina, Chile and Brazil. "Anyone who disregards the central principles of the United Nations Charter is sawing the foundations of the international order."

Already more than 20 years of negotiations on free trade agreements

The war in Ukraine is one of the important themes of the trip. Scholz left for the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, on Saturday morning. He also wants to try to get things moving in the stalled negotiations for an EU free trade agreement with the Mercosur states of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It is also about cooperation in the energy sector and coveted raw materials such as lithium, which is important for the production of electric cars. Scholz is accompanied by a business delegation.

Business has long been pushing for the deal between the European Union and Mercosur. In 2019, after 20 years of negotiations, an agreement in principle was reached. Nevertheless, there is still a problem. On the European side, there are mainly concerns from farmers, who fear competitive disadvantages, and from environmentalists, who are concerned about the rainforest in the Amazon region. On the other hand, a market of more than 700 million people would emerge, covering almost 20 percent of the global economy and 31 percent of global goods exports.

Business associations put the pressure on

Industry President Siegfried Russwurm called on the Chancellor to campaign for a quick agreement. "We must not miss the opportunity to implement one of the most important projects on our bilateral trade agenda," said the head of the Federation of German Industries. The President of the Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce, Peter Adrian, also put the pressure on. A further delay could result in competitive disadvantages, especially compared to the USA and China. "We mustn't fall behind in our economic commitments in Latin America."

Scholz said in the written interview that they "very much support the efforts of the EU Commission to reach an agreement with the Mercosur partners in a timely manner". The Chancellor also hopes for concrete results in the field of renewable energies, the production of green hydrogen and "responsible commodity trading". "We are looking for partnerships on an equal footing and full of respect," he emphasized.

Brazil, Argentina and Chile condemned war of aggression

The Ukraine war will not let go of Scholz in South America either. In the UN General Assembly vote condemning Russia's war of aggression, Argentina, Brazil and Chile were among the 141 countries that voted yes. Of the Latin American and Caribbean countries, only Bolivia, El Salvador and Cuba abstained.

However, in May 2022 - a few months before his election - the current Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva criticized the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj. "This guy is just as responsible for the war as Putin," he told Time magazine. "We encourage this guy - and then he thinks he's the icing on the cake." Scholz meets Lula in Brasilia on Monday.

Scholz visits Latin America earlier than Merkel

The Chancellor is visiting Latin America much earlier than his CDU predecessor, Angela Merkel, who only showed up on the continent two and a half years after taking office. The SPD politician has resolved to broaden Germany's international relations as part of what he has described as a "turning point" in order to avoid new dependencies on individual countries, as was once the case with Russia and its gas. That's why he's been to Asia three times and has already completed a long trip to Africa.

He left for Latin America with the new "Air Force One" of the Federal Government and Federal President. The "Konrad Adenauer" is the second A350-900 aircraft that the German Armed Forces Air Mission has put into service. However, it is the first of a total of three aircraft that has full VIP facilities - with a bedroom and bathroom as well as a lounge area.

The "Adenauer" was already tested by Federal President Frank-Walter-Steinmeier on a trip to Brazil at the turn of the year. Scholz is now on the road for the first time with the 67 meter long and 960 km/h fast aircraft. It can reach any destination in this world without a stopover.