Following the financial crises in 1999 and 2002, Brazil's economy has been making a comeback in recent years. Industrial production and especially export activities are on the rise. This development was bolstered by a strong devaluation of the Real in 2002, Brazil's access to the booming Chinese market (especially for agricultural products), and the high prices of natural resources on the world market. Brazil's real GDP rose by up to 5.7% (2004) in recent years. The 1,200 German businesses in Brazil, with their 250,000 employees, attained total sales of US$33 billion, accounting for 6.5% of Brazil's GDP.
In late 2006, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the leader of the Workers' Party (PT - Partido dos Trabalhadores ) was re-elected president of Brazil. Despite a major cabinet reshuffle, the ministers responsible for research and education remained in office.
The German government's Latin America Concept of 1995 provides for an expansion of contacts with emerging countries in Latin America in the areas of research, technology, and education. The aim is to further develop the traditionally close economic and cultural ties in a systematic manner. During former Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's visit to Brazil in 2002, a German-Brazilian declaration of intent was signed in which it was decided that cooperation in education and research would be a priority area in the relations between the two countries. Brazil holds a leading position within the Latin American continent regarding the research initiative between EU member states and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Scientific and Technological (S&T) Cooperation with Brazil is based on the framework agreement on scientific research and technological development between Germany and Brazil, which was updated in 1996 and places particular emphasis on the integration of industry partners in both countries. The framework agreement was complemented and made more specific by means of various individual agreements. The thematic focuses of the collaboration are chosen by the joint commission, which meets every two years.
The scientific environment in Brazil is extremely varied. In addition to universities run by the federal government, the states, and the private sector, there are large non-university research institutions that are financed by the federal government or the individual states, as well as important research centres run by companies (e.g. PETROBRAS).
During her visit to Brazil in October/November 2000, Edelgard Bulmahn, the Federal Minister of Education and Research at the time, signed two Memoranda of Understanding on cooperation in research and education. In these memoranda, application-oriented research carried out in collaboration with industry partners as well as cooperation in university education and vocational training play a particularly significant role. There is also a Brazilian government programme to provide increasing support to research with industry participation. At the commission meetings in 2001 and 2004, measures for the implementation of these memoranda were agreed upon.
The key areas of cooperation in individual specialist fields were determined in collaboration with the Brazilian partner ministries MCT (science and technology), MEC (education), MMA (the environment), and the overarching MRE (foreign ministry). Environmental research, sustainability research, and marine research are at the forefront of the collaboration. Application-oriented research focuses on the following areas, among others:
Due to Brazil's long colonization history and the concentration of two thirds of the population in the coastal region, the original ecozone - the Brazilian coastal rainforest (Mata Atlântica) - has been largely destroyed and is highly fragmented. The coastal rainforest is rich in endemic and endangered plant and animal species. Against this background, the research programme "Mata Atlântica" was launched in 2003 with the aim of developing preservation strategies for the remains of the forest. Currently, the BMBF is funding four interdisciplinary research projects on the sustainable use and protection of biodiversity in natural forest areas. Funding for the projects on the Brazilian side comes from the CNPq. The programme entered its second stage of funding in 2006.
In addition to governmental funding institutions (CNPq, CAPES, FINEP, etc.), the Brazilian research funding scene also features institutions at state level, such as FAPESP in São Paulo and FPERGS in Rio Grande do Sul. Germany has bilateral contacts with all of these institutions, but the National Science Council - Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) - is the main contact partner.
There are yearly calls for proposals, with the aim of supporting the initial phase of research and development cooperation projects. The funding comes from the BMBF on the German side and the CNPq on the Brazilian side. It focuses on exchanges of scientists (mobility projects).
In addition, the BMBF's funding programmes support other, more extensive research programmes. One example is the project "Open Spaces in Megacities - Potential for Nature-Orientated Living" in Recife, which aims to develop instruments for the management of open spaces. This projects is being funded by the BMBF's programme "Research for the Sustainable Development of the Megacities of Tomorrow".
Different divisions of the Directorate-General responsible for international relations at the BMBF provide funding for measures of technology transfer as well as for instruments to promote Germany as a key location of research. This includes innovation forums aimed at potential partners from Brazil, enabling German scientists to present their fields of technology.
In the area of environment and sustainability research, funding is given to a whole range of programmes that deal with exploring and protecting the biodiversity of the Atlantic coastal rainforests, the ecological impact of sugar cane cultivation, the condition of marine ecosystems, issues relating to water supply and wastewater disposal, environmental management in ports, and sustainable development in the city of Recife.
In 2006, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supported 688 German students and scientists in Brazil as well as 833 Brazilians in Germany. In the same year, 169 German scientists in Brazil received project-based funding. In addition, 12 DAAD lectors are currently working in Brazil.
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) has supported over 300 Brazilian scientists in the last 50 years. Seminars and lecture courses are organized to help former scholarship holders exchange ideas and establish contacts.
Two liaison scientists work in Brazil for the German Research Association (DFG), acting as on-site contacts.
In 2006, the Max Planck Society (MPG) funded the work of 93 Brazilian visiting scientists in Germany.
The collaborations of the Fraunhofer Society (FHG) in Latin America have a strong focus towards Brazil. Six Fraunhofer Institutes are currently actively participating in the collaborations.
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