SAO PAULO — Germany is keen to boost its already substantial investment in Brazil ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Rio summer Olympics, the new president of the Brazil-Germany Chamber of Commerce said Monday.

"There are many (German) companies, particularly small and medium-sized ones -- who see prospects for business in Brazil" despite the country's faltering economic growth (0.9% last year)," said Thomas Schmall, who has just been elected chamber president for a two-year term.

"Everybody (in the German business community) believes that in the long term, Brazil will continue to grow and will become a major power," Schmall, the head of Volkswagen's Brazil unit, said during a press conference.

In May, some 1,500 political and business leaders from both countries will meet here to discuss investment opportunities, Schmall said.

Some 1,400 German companies operate in Brazil, including 900 headquartered in the greater Sao Paulo area, Brazil's economic and financial engine. They employ 250,000 people.

German investment in the country totals $30 billion, making Brazil Germany's main partner in Latin America, both in terms of trade and investment.

Over the past decade, Brazilian exports to Germany nearly tripled, although they fell 18.9% to $7.3 billion in 2012, from $9 billion the previous year due to the global economic downturn.

German imports soared from $4.4 billion in 2002 to $14.2 billion in 2012.

Leading German companies operating in Brazil include Volkswagen (IW 1000/10), with sales of $15.7 billion, Mercedes Benz with $8 billion, engineering and manufacturing firm MAN with $4.3 billion and chemical giant BASF with $3 billion.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013