Brazil criticizes the “protectionism” behind the EU anti-deforestation law

After the EU proposed a ban on the import of agricultural products from deforested areas, the Brazilian Foreign Minister criticized the EU’s “trade protectionism” and “short-sightedness”, and specifically pointed out France’s criticism of agricultural subsidies.

Brussels Proposed a law This month, this will force companies that sell beef, soybeans, palm oil, coffee, cocoa and timber to the EU to prove that these commodities were not produced on land that has been deforested or degraded after 2020.

Brazil is a major exporter of many targeted products, and the EU’s initiative has rekindled long-standing tensions with the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who believes that there are ulterior motives behind the EU’s proposal .

“What I cannot accept is the use of the environment as a form of trade protectionism. It is not good for consumers. [and] Trade flows,” Foreign Minister Carlos Alberto Franco França said in an interview with the Financial Times. “I think there is a kind of short-sightedness in the EU. “

The planned legislation was announced shortly before the latest satellite data showed that damage in the Brazilian Amazon had soared to a 15-year high, which raised new questions about the government’s commitment to protect the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

According to data from the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (Inpe), more than 13,200 square kilometers of land were razed to the ground in the 12 months to July, more than eight times the size of Greater London, an increase of 22% from the previous year. This is the fastest rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon since 2006.

These figures obscure the praise Brazil won at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow this month, including a pledge to stop illegal deforestation by 2028 and a more ambitious 2050 net zero goal. [deforestation] The numbers are shocking. Brazil has serious credibility problems,” said a senior Western diplomat based in Brasilia.

França described the latest deforestation data as “surprising,” but said that these figures are “not as bad as they seem” because the situation has improved since July. Inpe data for August, September and October this year indicate that the number of forest fires has been reduced by 28%.

“The Brazilians don’t want to hide this issue,” the minister added. “When there is illegal deforestation, it is usually related to other crimes, such as labor violations, tax evasion, and money laundering. We treat it as a police matter, and this is getting results.”

Brazil is proud of its technologically advanced and high-yielding agricultural sector. Officials often emphasize that most of the country’s agricultural exports come from properly managed lands in the central and southern parts of the country, not from illegally felled forests in the Amazon.

França criticized the French government’s support for its agricultural sector. “I understand the internal political reasons why the French government supports farmers. The environment they give is not correct. [agricultural] subsidy. Because land and water are scarce resources, inefficient operations are unsustainable.

“It is better to grow in Brazil, where agricultural technology is increasingly advanced, than to produce in France.”

Frictions between Brazil and its European counterparts have led to a deadlock in the approval of a trade agreement reached after 20 years of arduous negotiations between the EU and Mercosur (Mercosur), which also includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Brussels is unwilling to continue to ratify the agreement because some member states strongly oppose it, believing that Brazil, in particular, is not doing enough to combat deforestation. França agreed that the trade agreement “is not moving forward.” A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added: “We are not a party obstructing the agreement, and Brazil is ready to move forward.”

França is a low-key professional diplomat who has served in the United States, Bolivia and Paraguay, and was the head of the protocol at the Bolsonaro presidential palace. He was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in March, succeeding Ernesto Araújo, the outspoken ideological theorist. Bolsonarista A movement known for admiring Donald Trump, aversion to “globalism”, and accusations of hostility to China.

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