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Brazil rejects concerns that EU-Mercosur trade deal could increase Amazon deforestation

Brazil argued that a French report raising these concerns “showed the true protectionist interests of those who commissioned it”.

Image: DPA/PA Images

BRAZIL HAS HIT back at the European Union’s reluctance to finalize a trade deal between the EU and ‘Mercosur’ countries over concerns about Amazon deforestation.

The draft deal between the European Union and Mercosur – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – was agreed in principle last year after two decades of wrangling. But it still needs to be ratified by all 27 EU member states, including Ireland.

France said it was opposed to the yet-to-be-ratified deal, after a government-commissioned report hit out at the trade deal as a “missed opportunity” to hold South American countries accountable for protecting the environment.

The report notably analyzed the link between the expansion of beef production in Brazil and deforestation in the Amazon, where environmentalists accuse farmers, ranchers and land speculators of razing trees to make way for crops and pasture.

But Brazil argued the report “showed the true protectionist interests of those who commissioned it”.

“Brazil has already shown it is capable of increasing beef, soy and corn production while also reducing deforestation,” the foreign and agriculture ministries said in a joint statement.

“From 2004 to 2012, deforestation in the Amazon region fell 83% even as agricultural production increased 61%…. That is consistent with the historical trend of increasing agricultural production in Brazil resulting from productivity gains compatible with environmental preservation.”

Irish farmers had expressed concerns previously about the European market being flooded with cheap beef from Brazil and Argentina.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also voiced “significant doubts” about the deal, given the extent of deforestation, her spokesman said last month.

The latest volley came as President Jair Bolsonaro said Brazil was the victim of a “brutal disinformation campaign” on Amazon deforestation in his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly.

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Bolsonaro, a far-right climate-change skeptic, has faced international criticism over deforestation in the Amazon, which has surged on his watch, according to his own government’s figures.

In 2019, Bolsonaro’s first year in office, deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon increased 85.3%, to a record 10,123 sq km – nearly the size of Lebanon.

So far this year, the rate is down by about 5%, though the number of wildfires has increased 12%, to 71,673.

© – AFP 2020

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