The Brazilian government recognized Ukraine's independence in December 1991 and established diplomatic relations with that country on February 11, 1992. Since the consolidation of its independence, Ukraine has shown concrete interest in deepening bilateral relations, starting with the opening of a resident embassy in Brasilia in 1993, a gesture that was reciprocated in 1995 when the Brazilian embassy was installed in Kiev. Brazil is the only country in Latin America that has received official visits from Ukrainian heads of state on three occasions (1995, 2003 and 2011). It made two presidential visits to Ukraine (2002 and 2009, when the strategic partnership between the two countries was launched).
The bilateral relationship evolved in the years following the establishment of diplomatic relations, favored by the mutual perception of potential strategic partnership. Thus, as early as 1995, the two countries signed an Economic and Commercial Cooperation Agreement, initiating dialogue in the commercial and technological sectors. In an important advance, an agreement was signed in 2003 that would allow the use of the Ukrainian Cyclone-4 rocket to launch satellites at the Alcântara Launch Center (CLA), seen at the time as the main pillar of the relationship.
At the end of 2013, the outbreak of the "Euromaidan" revolution, followed months later by the onset of conflicts in Crimea and Donbas, led to profound changes in the Ukrainian economy and politics. The crisis that hit the economy strongly reduced trade with Brazil. On the political level, Ukraine began to focus attention on these conflicts. At the same time, the Brazilian government decided to withdraw from the bilateral space project. Negotiations to liquidate the binational public company ACS resulted in its extinction in 2019.
The interest in reactivating the strategic partnership gained strength with the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. In his first year in office, President Jair Bolsonaro met his Ukrainian counterparts twice – the first time in January 2019, with Petro Poroshenko, and the second time in October 2019, with Volodymyr Zelensky (on which occasion the Brazilian president was invited to officially visit Ukraine and the Ukrainian president expressed interest in visiting Brazil).
Brazil and Ukraine have great potential for consolidating bilateral relations, especially in the economic and scientific-technological cooperation fields. The Brazil-Ukraine relationship is going through an auspicious moment, with manifestations from both governments in favor of the resumption of cooperation.
Bilateral relations benefit from the existence in Brazil of a community of Ukrainian descendants, estimated at around 450,000 people, the third largest in the Americas after the USA and Canada. Concentrated in the state of Paraná, the community has supported initiatives of rapprochement with Ukraine, such as the exchange of university students and the teaching of the Portuguese language at the National University Taras Shevchenko.
About 300 Brazilian citizens live in Ukraine and consular assistance is provided through the embassy in Kiev. Since 2012, Brazilians and Ukrainians have been exempted from visas on short trips. Ukraine maintains the following honorary consulates in Brazil: in Blumenau, in the state of Santa Catarina; in Paranaguá, state of Paraná; and in São Paulo, state of São Paulo. Brazil has three honorary consulates in Ukraine, which have been providing relevant services: in Kharkiv, the second most populous city and the main industrial center in the country; in Dnipro, an aerospace hub; and in Lviv, a tourist and IT hub.
The two countries maintain a partnership in the health area, through which Brazil imports NPH recombinant insulin from the Ukrainian company Indar, in exchange for the installation of a production plant for this medicine in Brazil, through a joint venture with the company Bahiafarma.
Ukraine offers an atmosphere conducive to cooperation in the cultural field due to the significant importance of literature, theater and music in the country. The Embassy of Brazil in Kiev maintains a partnership with the National Philharmonic of Ukraine, which made it possible to organize several Brazilian concerts in 2018 and 2019. In recent years, the Brazilian Embassy in Ukraine has promoted Brazilian film festivals in Kiev and other cities.
Brazilian exports were dynamic in the years preceding the "Euromaidan" revolution in 2013, marked by great economic expansion in Ukraine. From $344 million in 2010, exports grew by 81%, reaching a peak of $624 million in 2012. From then on, they fell to $483 million in 2013, to $151 million in 2014 and $ 85 million in 2015. They grew again in 2016, reaching $119 million in 2018 and $111 million in 2019.
The main products exported in 2019 were coffee ($28 million); tobacco ($22 million); mechanical appliances ($14 million); peanuts ($11 million); animal guts, bladders and stomachs ($10 million); sugar ($5.7 million); citrus fruits ($2.8 million); ferroalloys ($2.7 million); and pneumatic, hydraulic and engine tools ($1.2 million).
Imports followed a similar path. They went from $294 million in 2010 to $666 million in 2011. However, they fell to $ 24 million in 2017. They have accelerated again since then, reaching $ 60 million in 2018 and $ 106 million in 2019. The main products imported from Ukraine were pharmaceuticals ($31.2 million); hot and cold iron and steel rolled products ($22 million); electric water heaters ($13.1 million), malt ($11.3 million); electrical telephony devices ($5.5 million), textiles ($3 million), coal electrodes ($2.9 million); iron or steel wire rod ($2.6 million); and ball bearings ($2.3 million).
The total flow, which reached over $1 billion in 2011-2012, fell to $133 million in 2016, but has recovered since then, albeit at a relatively modest rate: $179 million in 2018 and $217 million in 2019. Brazil showed a surplus throughout the period. The economic recovery of Ukraine from 2016 has made it a market capable of absorbing a wide range of Brazilian products.
Chronology of bilateral relations
2019 – President Jair Bolsonaro meets with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in Tokyo, Japan (October 22)
2019 – President Jair Bolsonaro meets with President Petro Poroshenko, on the margins of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland (January 24)
2013 – 6th ICC held in Brasilia, with the presence of Igor Prassolov, Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine (November 8)
2011 – Defense Minister, Mykhailo Yezhel, visits Brazil
2011 – The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Aloizio Mercadante, visits Ukraine
2010 – Defense Minister Nelson Jobim visits Ukraine
2009 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits Ukraine (December). Launch of the strategic partnership
2005 – The delegation of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Commission of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, chaired by Deputy Aroldo Cedraz, visits Kiev (October)
2005 – Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk visits Brazil
2004 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets with President Leonid Kutchma and the entire Cabinet in Kiev, in May; second ICC meeting
2003 – President Leonid Kutchmavisist Brazil in October
2002 – President Fernando Henrique Cardoso visits Ukraine
2001 – First meeting of the Brazil-Ukraine Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission (ICC)
1999 – Foreign Minister Boris Tarassiuk visits Brazil
1996 – Foreign Minister Guenadi Udovenko visits Brazil
1995 – President Leonid Kutchma visits Brazil. Signing of the Economic-Commercial Cooperation Agreement, which provided for the formation of the Brazil-Ukraine Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission (ICC)
1995 – Opening of the Brazilian resident embassy in Kiev
1993 – Opening of the Ukrainian resident embassy in Brasilia
1992 – Establishment of diplomatic relations
1991 – Brazil recognizes the independence of Ukraine