September 19, 2019
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Brazil must abide by EU-Mercosur deal's climate commitments, ambassador says

By Isadora Camargo

Sao Paulo, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- The European Union's new ambassador to Brazil praised that country's determination to implement the recently struck trade deal linking the EU and South American trade bloc Mercosur, although in an interview with EFE he reminded Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that compliance with the Paris climate accord is an essential element of that agreement.

Spain's Ignacio Ybañez said Bolsonaro was wrong to criticize the governments of Norway and Germany for suspending their donations to the Amazon Fund, a Brazilian government program aimed at conserving the world's largest tropical rainforest.

Those funds are being held back due to concerns about the Bolsonaro administration's commitment to Amazon preservation.

However, after touting the advantages of the EU-Mercosur trade deal in a speech at the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo, the new ambassador said he would work to strengthen and improve bilateral relations between Europe and Brazil, with an emphasis on the industrial and business sectors.

In contrast to the protectionism adopted by the United States and China, he said the EU and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) are advocating for "liberalization and economic sustainability."

In his interview with EFE after his address to Spanish business leaders in Brazil's largest city, Ybañez also discussed Europe's concerns with respect to ratification of the accord.

Q. Could the increase in Amazon deforestation adversely affect or delay ratification of (the trade deal) between Mercosur and the European Union?

A. We spent 20 years negotiating the agreement, which is a investment in the future by these two regions, so it's not right to think that the legislatures are going to respond to isolated things. What's most important is that the agreement contains commitments on how we want our future relationship to be. For example, on the environmental issue there's a clear commitment on the part of Brazil and Mercosur to comply with the Paris agreement (on climate change) and international treaties.

Q. What concerns the EU the most with respect to ratification of the trade deal?

A. What really concerns us is that the administrations are able to effectively inform their legislatures about what's at stake with that accord and the effects it will have. The commitment we're making is to the common values of rule of law, human rights, sustainability and economic liberalization.

Q. How is the relationship with the Brazilian government?

A. In a certain sense, the message I'm transmitting to the government is that the will of the European institutions is to work in all directions (to improve relations) and that strengthening the bilateral relationship with Brazil is more than just facilitating ratification of the EU-Mercosur deal.

Q. And what is needed to secure ratification?

A. We'll secure ratification if we do a good job explaining the deal for both parties. It's not just a trade agreement, and that's what we want to get across: our commitment is to work together in an intensive manner.

Q. What is Europe's stance with respect to the latest pesticide approvals in Brazil?

A. These (pesticide-contaminated) products cannot enter the European market. The health of citizens of the two blocs must be preserved. If Brazilian producers want to continue exporting to Europe, which is a very attractive market for them, they must comply with the health standards established by Europe.

Q. Is it difficult to talk with the Brazilian government about environmental issues?

A. It's not more difficult or easier. We don't intend to lower the standards we've established. We're at the start of a new government that's adopting its own policies and we have to keep promoting dialogue day by day. I see that there's a very clear commitment by the Bolsonaro government to the trade deal, which is a radical change in our relations.

Q. What are the mid-term expectations for the trade agreement?

A. In the medium term, the goal of the accord is for the standards of the European Union and Mercosur to be more and more closely aligned and for there to be a dialogue between both sides that protects the two sides. We're going to establish a market that's much broader and much better.

Q. How will the EU delegation work in Brazil?

A. The will of the EU delegation here is to work alongside the Brazilian government, which also now has the responsibility of exercising the (rotating) presidency of Mercosur, and so it will be our direct point of contact with the bloc's member countries. EFE-EPA

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