`German Chancellor Casts Doubt Over Landmark E.U.-Mercosur Trade Deal - Olive Oil Times

German Chancellor Casts Doubt Over Landmark E.U.-Mercosur Trade Deal

By Daniel Dawson
Aug. 24, 2020 14:12 UTC

Deforestation in the Amazon rain­for­est has put the land­mark European Union-Mercosur trade agree­ment in jeop­ardy, accord­ing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The trade deal, which was approved in prin­ci­ple last year, is in the process of under­go­ing legal revi­sion in the E.U. Then it must be approved and rat­i­fied by each of the 27 mem­ber states.

A spokesman for the chan­cel­lor said that the leader of the E.U.’s largest econ­omy has been left with seri­ous doubts about the via­bil­ity of the deal after meet­ing with envi­ron­men­tal activists.

The chan­cel­lor’s posi­tion is that… there are sig­nif­i­cant doubts as to whether the agree­ment can be imple­mented in its intended spirit, con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent devel­op­ments and the ter­ri­ble loss of forests tak­ing place there [in Brazil],” Steffen Seibert said.

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The meet­ing coin­cided with an announce­ment from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which said that the rate of defor­esta­tion in the Amazon had increased by more than a third since August 2019.

Overall, the orga­ni­za­tion esti­mates that defor­esta­tion has increased by 30 per­cent since the elec­tion of the con­ser­v­a­tive pres­i­dent Jair Bolsonaro in 2018.

If passed, the trade agree­ment would remove tax bar­ri­ers and increase quo­tas on 90 per­cent of goods traded among the E.U. and the four mem­bers of the Mercosur – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Olive oil pro­duc­ers and exporters on both sides of the Atlantic eagerly awaited the full rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the deal when it was announced last year. However, the cer­tainty of the deal being approved by all 27 E.U. mem­ber states has dimin­ished con­sid­er­ably since.

Environmental activists have warned that elim­i­nat­ing tar­iffs on Brazilian beef and soy­beans would serve as renewed incen­tive for farm­ers and ranch­ers to con­tinue clear­ing land in the Amazon, which is fre­quently done through con­trolled burns.

Merkel is not the first E.U. leader to cast doubt on the deal. French President Emmanuel Macron pre­vi­ously ques­tioned the via­bil­ity of the deal after thou­sands of wild­fires burned across the Amazon last year.

Argentina’s new pres­i­dent, Alberto Fernández, has also sig­naled that imple­ment­ing the deal his pre­de­ces­sor fought so hard to pass is not at the top of his administration’s list of pri­or­i­ties.

Last year’s announce­ment that an agree­ment had been reached between the two trad­ing blocs was a his­toric moment and came after 20 years of nego­ti­a­tions. The rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the deal would cre­ate a com­bined mar­ket of 780 mil­lion peo­ple.

In spite of some oppo­si­tion from mem­ber states, the European Commission remains stead­fast in its com­mit­ment to rat­i­fy­ing and imple­ment­ing the deal.

The agree­ment rep­re­sents a win-win for both the E.U. and Mercosur, cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth, jobs and sus­tain­able devel­op­ment on both sides,” the Commission said.


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