France’s Macron tells Brazilian execs that prospective Mercosur-EU deal is ‘terrible’ and outdated

France’s Macron tells Brazilian execs that prospective Mercosur-EU deal is ‘terrible’ and outdated

27 Mar    AP, Finance News, PMN Business

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SAO PAULO (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron told Brazilian executives on Wednesday that a proposed deal between the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur is bad for both parties.

Speaking at a forum in Sao Paulo, Macron said the Mercosur-EU deal is outdated and needs reworking to take climate change into account. His comments reinforced his opposition, which has been the most outspoken among European leaders.

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“The trade deal with Mercosur as it is being negotiated now is a terrible deal. For you and for us,” Macron said, according to the translation into Portuguese by Sao Paulo’s Industry Federation, whose headquarters held the event. “It was negotiated 20 years ago. We need to rebuild it.”

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Macron opposes any agreement so long as South American producers fail to adhere to the same environmental and health standards as Europeans. Farmers raised concerns about pesticides during protests across Europe earlier this year.

Mercosur is formed by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Macron hadn’t mentioned the topic at the start of his three-day visit to Brazil, during a busy schedule in the Amazon city of Belem with his counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Prior to the trip, his office said a potential deal would not be on the agenda.

“This deal, as it is, I don’t defend it,” the French president said, with Brazil’s Vice President Geraldo Alckmin sitting in the audience.

Alckmin, who is also Brazil’s industry minister, didn’t mention the negotiations in his own speech, but alluded to them.

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“President Lula always says there needs to be reciprocity. It is win-win. We gain markets, we open our market,” he said. Some Brazilian economists have insisted the EU is not opening enough for Mercosur goods.

On Tuesday, Lula and Macron announced a plan to invest 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in the Amazon, including parts of the rainforest in neighboring French Guiana.

The two countries’ governments said in a joint statement the money will be spread over the next four years to protect the rainforest. It will be a collaboration of state-run Brazilian banks and France’s investment agency.

On Thursday, the French president will head to Brasilia to again meet with Lula.

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