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France says it will block EU trade deal with Brazil over Amazon forest fires

PortandTerminal.com, August 25, 2019

France will block an EU trade deal with Brazil and its neighbours over the country’s handling of fires in the Amazon rainforest, a spokesperson for Emmanuel Macron said this week.

PARIS, FRANCE – Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is in flames, burning at the highest rate since 2013 when that nation’s space research center first began tracking fires there.

The Amazon rainforest, which produces about 20% of earth’s oxygen, is often referred to as “the planet’s lungs. It is also a vital store of carbon and a key weapon in the fight against climate change.

Global Forest Watch says there have been 109,000 fire alerts in Brazil between August 13-22 Credit: GLOBAL FOREST WATCH

An inferno in the Amazon, two-thirds of which is in Brazil, threatens the rainforest ecosystem and also affects the entire globe. Scientists say the Amazon is approaching a tipping point, after which it will irreversibly degrade into a dry savannah. At a time when the world needs billions of more trees to absorb carbon and stabilise the climate, the planet is losing its biggest rainforest.

France and now Ireland as well have said enough is enough. Unless Brazil takes swift action to put out the fires raging in the Brazilian rainforest, they will block the long sought after Mercosur/EU trade deal.

France and Ireland say it will block Mercosur trade deal unless Brazil puts out the fires

French President, Emmanuel Macron has said that he will block the Mercosur trade deal unless the fires are swiftly dealt with

Mercosur consists of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Officials representing Mercosur and the EU have been in talks for almost 20 years to bring the trade deal to life. The deal sets out to create a market for goods and services covering nearly 800 million consumers, making it the largest in the world in terms of population.

The deal aims to cut or remove trade tariffs, making imported products cheaper for consumers while also boosting exports for companies on both sides.

The Mercosur side wants to increase exports of beef, sugar, poultry and other farm products.

The EU side of the trade deal wants to increase access for firms that make industrial products and cars – which are currently subject to tariffs of up to 35% – and also enable them to compete for public contracts in Mercosur countries.

Why does France blame Brazil for the fires?

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has blamed NGO’s for setting the fires to embarrass his government

Jair Bolsonaro has made things a lot worse by weakening the Brazilian environment agency, attacking conservation NGOs and promoting the clearing of the rainforest in order to open the Amazon up to more mining, farming and logging. The far-right leader has also dismissed satellite data on deforestation and fired the head of the space agency. 

In July 2019 73 sq km of the Amazon rainforest was cleared every day. For scale, that’s an area almost 25% LARGER than all of Manhattan that was lost each and every single day

Bolsano has said that he believes that NGOs could be burning down the Amazon rainforest to embarrass his government after he cut their funding. Bolsonaro has offered no evidence but said ‘everything indicates’ that NGOs are going to the Amazon to set fire to the forest.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday angered Bolsonaro by calling the wildfires blazing in the Amazon rainforest an “international crisis” that should be on the agenda at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.

While the world’s most important forest is in flames, Bolsano has been pointing fingers and letting it burn.

The latest news

France and Ireland’s ultimatum seems to have worked for now.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has said that he plans to deploy the army to tackle the wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest. The troops will be deployed starting this weekend for the next month, according to a presidential decree.

Why the caveat of “for the next month”? We would hope they get it done much sooner, please. More than a Manhattan a day is being cleared, torched and put on a clear path for a global climate tipping point.

Emmanuel Macron reset the discussion this week.

Diplomacy needs to urgently find a way to help Mr Bolsonaro accept international help and let him do it with dignity. Emmanuel Macron reset the discussion this week.

The world is on fire.

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