The EU’s trade negotiations with the Mercosur states – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay – have been going on for over two decades.
The aim of these negotiations is to make a free trade deal and strengthen economic ties between the region and the European Union.
Among other issues, the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement will cover:
- The trade of goods and services
- Intellectual property rights
- Government procurement
- Trade barriers
It’s also hoped that it will improve geopolitical relations between the two. And, campaigners also hope that it could lead to improvements in environmental policies.
In an open letter, a group of scientists and representatives from Brazil’s indigenous population are calling for human rights and environmental issues to be top of the agenda in the negotiations.
Brazil is one of the biggest exporters of agricultural products to the European Union. It’s also its second largest commercial partner accounting for an estimated 18.2% of Brazil’s trade.
In recent years, the Brazilian government has softened many of its environmental protection laws for economic reasons, and also due to increased demand for products globally.
Because of this, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is still happening at a fast pace and is showing no signs of slowing down.
The signatories of the letter want more legislation to make it easier to trace the exact origins of products. They also want greater protection for the indigenous populations in the region.
According to the European Commission, the production of raw materials, including beef, palm oil, coffee, cacao, and soya, is, in some cases, indirectly linked to deforestation.
This, along with the impact the agricultural sector has on the Brazilian economy, means that the development of sustainable supply chains is essential.
The Commission is currently working on an action plan to make sure that its trade policies don’t lead to deforestation. This plan will be announced in the coming weeks.
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