Andreas Renschler, CEO of Volkswagen Truck & Bus (soon to be TRATON AG), first visited Brazil back in the early nineties. He says that this Latin American nation and Germany have plenty of values in common, including free trade, openness, and a democratic identity. He also cites these as the reason why he decided to join the Latin America Committee of German Industry, which he also chairs. “I believe Brazil to be a country worth championing.” And he is not alone: German companies brought their business to what is currently the world’s eighth largest economy more than 100 years ago. Since then, Brazilian companies have also shown a growing tendency to invest in Germany – with successful results. Renschler emphasizes: “The economic relations between Germany and Brazil are not a one-way street – instead, they play an important role for both countries as well as holding enormous potential for the future.”
In light of the above, Volkswagen Truck & Bus has a vested interest in seeing these relations succeed – after all, it has been number one in the enormous Brazilian market for many years. The Company is also increasingly looking into opportunities to export goods from Brazil to other markets, which promises economic prosperity in the country’s future. The first ground has already been broken: after many years of recession, the Brazilian economy is finally on the road to recovery. The OECD forecasts economic growth to the tune of 2.8% in 2019¹. Not even Brazil’s super-cycle of upcoming elections in October 2018 to elect the country’s congress and president has been able to put a damper on its economic recovery.
These favorable conditions provided the backdrop to the 2018 German-Brazilian Business Days, which took place between June 24 and 26 on the Cologne trade fair grounds. Around 500 representatives of the two countries’ political and business arenas came together to discuss bilateral economic relations as part of multiple panels and meetings. The participants agreed, for example, that Brazilian policymakers are aware of the urgent need to introduce extensive reforms. This was echoed by government representatives who had traveled from Brasilia to take part in the event, especially when it comes to cutting red tape. As the event went on, it transpired that both countries had pressing matters to get on with when it comes to working together. With this in mind, one of the items on the Business Days’ agenda was the lack of a double tax agreement. Brazilian representatives also took this opportunity to call on German policymakers to support the trade agreement between the EU and the members of Mercosur. Digitalization and not losing sight of the human factor in pursuit of globalization completed the range of key topics discussed at the event.
“This meeting is a unique opportunity to get to know the key players in German-Brazilian economic relations,” Roberto Cortes, CEO of Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus, said at the end of the event. His own priority is on advancing the positive cooperation between the countries by initiating further measures in Cologne: “This includes, for example, the trade agreement we have been working toward for years, as well as the question of double taxation which we have still not resolved.” He described the two countries’ relationship as heading in the right direction.
The electric e-Delivery truck may well become a symbol of this relationship. Manufactured in Resende, Brazil, its prototypes are already undergoing extensive testing. Serial production is scheduled to start in 2020. Adilson Dezoto, Vice President of Manufacturing at Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus highlights that the latter is already one of Brazil’s largest exporters of trucks and buses. He adds: “We also run a global research and development center, which are responsible for design, manufacturing, testing, and production of every single one of over 800,000 Volkswagen trucks and buses, which are used in 30 countries worldwide.” He is confident that this gives a helping hand to the development of Brazil’s engineering expertise, which, in turn, strengthens the country’s skill profile and unlocks export potential.
Needless to say, those kinds of messages from Resende were met with approval at the Business Days in Cologne. “As far as we are concerned, Brazil is a very significant location,” Andreas Renschler brings home the importance of German-Brazilian cooperation, adding: “I believe in Brazil, we as a company believe in Brazil.”