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 know-how and expertise through joint initiatives based on the pooling of 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.

Visits

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:

  • President Dilma Rousseff’s State visit to France on 11 and 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 by José Serra, in June 2016;
  • the visit to Rio de Janeiro by Mr François Hollande for the opening of the Olympic Games in August 2016;
  • the visit to Paris by Mr Pereira, Minister of Industry Trade and Services, in November 2016;
  • the visit of Mr Michel Sapin, Minister for the Economy and Finance, in March 2017.

Economic relations

The dynamic of economic relations is based both on trade and investment in a country which French companies no longer regard merely as a market but as a component of their global development strategy. Despite current circumstances, 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 with average annual growth of 5.6% annually since 2006, generating major surpluses for France. 850 subsidiaries of French companies are established in Brazil (including all CAC 40 non-construction companies), and represent 500,000 jobs. The recession has, however, had a very direct impact on the number of French businesses exporting to Brazil: they have fallen from 5,000 in 2011-1013 down to 4,200 in 2016 – a drop of 16%.
  • Bilateral trade between France and Brazil stood at €7 billion in 2016, down 9% on 2015, because of a drop in our exports (-10% at €4.3 billion) resulting from the contraction of Brazilian internal demand; over the same period, imports from Brazil fell by 8% (€2.7 billion as against €2.9 billion in 2015). French exports have shown a degree of resilience, as Brazil’s total imports fell by 20% between 2015 and 2016. Brazil thus remains France’s 17ᵗʰ-largest customer and has become its seventh-largest supplier (ninth in 2015).
  • France is among the leading investors in Brazil (fifth in terms of stock, with US $37 billion in foreign direct investment), with a view to conquering markets (with Accor in the service sector and Casino in the large-scale distribution sector) and not with a view to offshoring; According to a study by the consultancy PwC, France was even the second-largest source of investment decisions in 2016. French foreign direct investment (FDI) flows have, however, followed the general trend of divestment observed in 2015 (-3.5%, at US $2.8 billion).

Brazil is France’s leading export 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 capital goods and industrial products (including aeronautical products, car equipment, motor vehicles and pharmaceutical products).

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.
  • The French National School of Public Administration (ENA) has a long-standing partnership with ENAP, its Brazilian counterpart, for the training of senior civil servants. This partnership was enhanced with new exchange aspects in May 2016.
  • Work to promote French and cultural exchanges is also a major part of our cooperation. A total of over 2,000 students attend three French schools (lycées), in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, including some 1,500 French students. The Alliance Française branches in Brazil constitute the oldest, most tightly meshed network in the world, with 40 establishments and 30,000 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 Française 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: 19 June 2017

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