France and Brazil

• French Ambassador to Brazil: Mr. Laurent Bili (since September 2015)
• Brazilian Ambassador to France: Mr Paulo Cesar de Oliveira Campos (since July 2015)

Political relations

The long-standing relationship of friendship between Brazil and France was enhanced with the building of an ambitious Strategic Partnership launched in May 2006 by Presidents Lula and Chirac. It recognizes Brazil as a global player and a legitimate candidate to permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. It involves a sharing of knowledge and expertise through joint initiatives based on the sharing material, technological, human and natural resources. The Partnership concerns all fields: military, space, energy, the economy, education, cross-border affairs, development assistance in third countries, and cross-border cooperation between French Guiana and the State of Amapá.


The Strategic Partnership with Brazil was launched in May 2006 during President Chirac’s State visit to Brazil and confirmed during the meeting of 12 February 2008 between Presidents Lula and Sarkozy in Saint-Georges de l’Oyapock, Guiana, on our common border. An Action Plan was adopted, and many agreements were signed during the bilateral Rio Summit on 23 December 2008, organized alongside the second EU-Brazil Summit. President Sarkozy’s visit on 7 September 2009, as the first non-Latin American Head of State to attend Brazil’s Independence Day celebrations as a guest of honour, helped assess the implementation of the projects undertaken.

The French year in Brazil, from 21 April to 15 November 2009, helped step up all those exchanges and to introduce Brazil to a modern France open to the world and diverse societies.

Recent visits include:

• the visit to Brasilia and São Paulo of Ms Michèle Alliot-Marie, French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, in February 2011;
• the visit to Brasilia, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro by Mr François Fillon, French Prime Minister, in December 2011;
• the visit to Paris of Mr Antonio Patriota, Brazilian Minister of External Relations, in August 2012;
• Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s State visit to France, on 11-12 December 2012;
• French President Hollande’s State visit to Brazil, on 12-13 December 2013;
• the visit to Paris of Mr Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, Brazilian Minister of External Relations, in March 2014;
• the visit to Paris of Mr Mauro Vieira, Brazilian Minister of External Relations, in June 2015;
• the visit to São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro by Mr Matthias Fekl, French Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, in October 2015;
• the visit to Brasilia of Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, in November 2015;
• the short visit to Paris of Mauro Vieira, in June 2016.

Economic relations

The momentum of economic relations is based on both trade and investment, in a country which French companies see no longer as a mere market but as part of their global development strategy. Despite current circumstances and Byzantine regulations, Brazil remains very attractive for French companies and there are real opportunities:

Bilateral trade has long been buoyant, having doubled between 2003 and 2013, and generates major surpluses for France. 850 subsidiaries of French companies are established in Brazil (all CAC40 non-construction companies), and represent 500,000 jobs. Trade with France is supported by dynamic French exports (4.3 billion) and the execution of major contracts, and grew by 8% in 2015 (€7.2 billion), while Brazil’s overall trade contracted considerably (-20%). However, 2016 is looking more difficult (-26% fall in French exports extrapolated over the year);

France is one of Brazil’s leading investors (ranking fifth with flows of €2.6 billion in 2014 – more than in China and Russia put together) with a view to breaking into markets (with Accor in the service sector and Casino in the supermarkets sector), and not to offshoring. French FDI did, however, follow the general divestment trend observed in 2015 (-3.5% to $2.8 billion);

Brazil is France’s leading market in Latin America, attracting two thirds of French exports to the region, well ahead of Mexico (19%), Argentina (11%) and Colombia and Chile (8%). Brazil’s position in French foreign trade remains steady, accounting for less than 1% of our total trade flows. Traditionally, France purchases agrifood products (including soya) and oil in Brazil and is increasingly purchasing industrial goods. French exports to Brazil mainly consist of equipment and industrial products (aviation products, automobile equipment and vehicles, pharmaceuticals, etc.).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

The enhancement of the relationship between France and Brazil draws on particularly solid and diversified cooperation, as Brazil is a very Francophile country and cultural diversity is part of its national identity.

Brazil is France’s leading scientific cooperation partner in Latin America, with a special focus on research and technological innovation (France is Brazil’s second most important scientific partner after the United States). Scientific cooperation is structured around quality training between universities and through high-level partnerships between research bodies in both countries. Such training focuses in particular on fundamental and applied mathematics, climate change and the social and human sciences. Courses in innovative technologies have developed significantly, in particular the CAPES-COFECUB programme, which is a balanced partnership of very high scientific quality that has trained almost 2000 PhD candidates since it launched in 1978;

France remains Brazil’s leading European academic partner. Starting in the 1930s, Fernand Braudel, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roger Bastide worked to forge the strong academic ties that exist between France and Brazil by helping found the University of São Paulo (USP) which is today the leading university in Latin America. France is today the third worldwide destination for Brazilian students and is committed to promoting international student mobility by undertaking to receive 10,000 Brazilian scholarship students by the end of 2015 (almost 8000 have already been received, and this figure will be exceeded) through the Science without Borders (SwB) scholarship programme launched by President Dilma Rousseff.

Work to promote French and cultural exchanges is also a major part of our cooperation. The French year in Brazil in 2009 (after the Brazilian year in France in 2005) helped intensify all these exchanges through more than 1000 cultural events. A total of over 2000 students attend three French schools (lycées), in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, including some 1500 French students. The Alliances Française branches in Brazil constitute the oldest, most tightly meshed network in the world, with 40 establishments and 35,000 students. In the publishing sector, there are close relations between publishers and writers of both countries (Brazil is the leading market for French books in Latin America).

Other cooperation

Decentralized cooperation, enshrined by the Protocol signed on 12 February 2008 in French Guiana, has been developing steadily: in addition to the regular bilateral conferences, the Joint Monitoring Committee on French-Brazilian Decentralized Cooperation, which was established by the 2008 Protocol, met for the first time in Rio de Janeiro, in April 2009. The Committee brought together the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region with the State of Minas Gerais and the cities of Paris and Rio de Janeiro, for example.

Cross-border cooperation is a specific aspect of our relationship, given that France has over 700km of borders with Brazil. The building of a bridge on the Oyapock River illustrates this and has led to growing cooperation in the fields of health, education and sustainable development, in cooperation with the Agence françause de développement (AFD, French Development Agency) which is a key partner in this regional cooperation. Such cooperation addresses the concerns of both parties about the various cross-border risks such as illegal immigration, security, illegal gold-washing, illegal fishing, and sanitary and phytosanitary issues). It also encourages human exchanges and trade (education, movement) and helps develop the Amazonian regional economy with due respect for local people and the exceptional environment.

Updated: 20 June 2016