Brazil sews alliance of emerging countries to break down EU environmental barrier – 08/22/2022

The government of Jair Bolsonaro has led an offensive by emerging countries to try to prevent Europe from applying protectionist measures against agricultural products, on the grounds that they are protecting the environment. In a letter sent to the European Commission, Brazil and a dozen developing countries warned that such barriers could violate international treaties.

In Europe, governments are considering the creation of environmental criteria for the import of agricultural goods, which could represent the closure of the European market for dozens of national exporters. The process is moving, in the EU, to a decision in the coming months.

The initiative to create a response came from Indonesia, which this year chairs the G-20. But it was Brazilian diplomacy that managed to lead the process, collect signatures and adhesions from countries on different continents.

For Brazil, commercial measures cannot be used to achieve environmental goals and threaten to deepen poverty, with no effect on forest conservation. The group also warns that the proposal could violate WTO trade agreements.

In the document, delivered at the end of July to the direction of the European Commission, emerging countries indicated that they are aware of the need to defend the environment. But “they regret that the EU has opted for unilateral legislation” rather than following established international agreements.

The group led by Brazil wants Europe to expand consultations with foreign governments, before applying the barriers. In the document, emerging countries also regret that the arguments presented so far by these countries have been ignored.

According to the letter, the process in Europe does not sufficiently consider the local conditions of each of the regions, with a basis of criteria that would be “punitive”. The group warns that the greatest risk is that such measures will cause “trade distortions and diplomatic tensions, without benefit to the environment”.

The measures would also undermine the reputation of companies and will penalize producers in developing countries, especially small farmers.

The group also claims to be concerned about the discriminatory nature of the measures. According to them, such barriers can have a “negative” social impact and “economic consequences” for developing economies.

In addition to Brazil and Indonesia, the ambassadors of Argentina, Colombia, Ghana, Guatemala, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Honduras, Bolivia, Ecuador and Malaysia signed the letter.

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