Brazil and Italy have long-standing relations, with deep political dialogue, exchange of views on current international issues, and close social and cultural ties. This is certainly due to the large number of Brazilians of Italian descent, estimated at more than 30 million (the largest community outside of Italy), the presence of Brazilian communities in major Italian cities (totaling nearly 100 thousand people, including persons with dual citizenship) and a tourist flow from both sides (on average, over 300 thousand Brazilians visit Italy every year and at more than 240 thousand Italians visit Brazil). In the legislative arena, the Brazil-Italy Parliamentary Group has added momentum to the bilateral relationship. Created in 2003, the group brings together congresspersons from the two countries and has worked to strengthen economic, political and cultural ties.
Political dialogue between Brazil and Italy has been conducted successfully and at the highest level. Highlights among recent meetings include the meeting between Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano in March 2013, in Rome; the meeting between foreign ministers Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado and Emma Bonino in September 2013, in New York; President Dilma Roussef’s trip to Italy in July 2015; the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to Brazil in November 2015; Minister Aloysio Nune’s trip to Italy in November 2017; and the visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Angelino Alfano, in February 2018. On January 23, 2019, President Bolsonaro met with the Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. On the occasion, they expressed their mutual interest in strengthening bilateral cooperation.
In 2007, Brazil and Italy signed the Strategic Partnership, which is based on the willingness to work in coordination and towards international peace and security, disarmament and non-proliferation, and to promote development. An Action Plan that established a bilateral partnership covering 16 key areas of cooperation between the two countries came into effect in April 2010.
Bilateral relations in the field of defense are marked by the successful joint development of the AMX fighter jet (manufactured by Italian enterprises Aeritalia and Aermacchi and Brazil’s Embraer). In this regard, the Action Plan aims at promoting closer links between the industries of the two countries and technology transfer.
In the economic and trade sphere, the Plan highlights that Brazil and Italy are willing to increasingly use their funding agencies to promote investment, industrial cooperation and bilateral trade, with a view to encouraging the use of new financial mechanisms to expand credit access and increase bilateral trade. In 2019, Brazilian exports to Italy totaled $3.1 billion (thirteenth-largest importer) and Italian exports to Brazil reached $4.04 billion (tenth-largest exporter), thus accounting for a Brazilian deficit of nearly $900 million ($892.1 million). Some of the main Brazilian exports to Italy in 2019 included cellulose (20%); unroasted coffee (15%); and gold (7.1%). Brazil imports from Italy medicines and pharmaceutical goods (6.9%); other medicines (6.5%); specialized machinery and equipment for industries (5.4%).
The Action Plan also sets out initiatives to deepen bilateral political dialogue and cooperation in space, energy, culture and academic areas, among others.
Brazil and Italy also maintain important cooperation in science and technology, based on an Agreement concluded in 1997. In 2013, the first meeting of the Joint Commission on Science and Technology facilitated a meeting between representatives from universities and public research agencies of the two countries.
The economic aspect of the bilateral relations is also important. Italian foreign direct investment in Brazil still represents a central point of the bilateral economic agenda. Italy ranks 12th among the largest direct investors in Brazil (by the criteria of immediate investor and final controller). Italian investments in Brazil cover a wide range of sectors. Italian companies in Brazil are estimated at more than 1,200, creating thousands of job positions. Italy’s direct investment in Brazil is led by real estate, telecom, wholesale of food, machinery and equipment manufacturing, vehicle parts and accessories. There are approximately 20 large Brazilian companies operating on Italian soil.
It is estimated that Italian companies employ approximately 150,000 direct workers. Based on data from 2018, Italy was the 12th largest trading partner for exports, which totaled $3.56 billion.
Chronology of bilateral relations
2019 – The Minister of Foreign Affairs makes a working visit to Italy (May 7-8)
2018 – The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Angelino Alfano visits Brazil (Brasilia, February 22)
2013 – Foreign ministers Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado and Emma Bonino meet in New York
2013 – President Dilma Rousseff and President Giorgio Napolitano meet in Italy
2012 – Vice-President of Republic Michel Temer visits Rome
2010 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Washington, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. Signing of the Plan of Action of the Strategic Partnership. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visits Brazil
2009 – President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva travels to Italy for the G-8 Meeting and the FAO World Summit on Food Security, and to hold meetings with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
2007 – The President of the Council of Ministers, Romano Prodi, visits Brazil. Signing of the Brazil-Italy Strategic Partnership
2005 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits Italy
2000 – President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi makes a State visit to Brazil
1997 – President Fernando Henrique Cardoso makes a State visit to Italy
1975 – Foreign Minister Azeredo da Silveira visits Italy
1965 – Giuseppe Saragat is the first Italian president to visit Brazil
1944 – Brazil and Italy restore full diplomatic relations.The first contingent of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force embarks for Italy
1891 – Italy recognizes the Brazilian Republic
1870 – Italian immigration to Brazil begins
1861 – The Brazilian Empire recognizes the Kingdom of Italy