France threatens to derail EU trade deal with South America after two decades of talks
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Paris has voiced the scale of deforestation in certain South American countries is a “major” concern. France wants the countries in South America who will form part of the free trade agreement to respect the targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The proposed agreement between the EU and South America includes the countries in the Mercosur free trade bloc, comprising Brazil, Argentina, Pataguay and Uruguay.
After nearly two decades of negotiations, the agreement is nearly complete.
The French government announced: “The draft agreement has no provision to impose discipline on the practices of the Mercosur countries in the fight against deforestation.
“This is the major shortcoming in this agreement and this is the main reason why, as it stands, France opposes the draft agreement.”
French prime minister Jean Castex is critical of the agreement.
Mr Castex said it was a “missed opportunity for the EU to use its negotiating power to obtain solid guarantees” on environmental issues such as deforestation.
The criticism also comes from French president Emmanuel Macron who firmly disagrees with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s stance as a climate change sceptic.
Mr Bolsonaro wants to abandon restrictions on deforestation in the Amazon so as to exploit the region for financial gain.
Mr Macron called Mr Bolsonaro “extraordinarily rude” after the Brazilian president said his own first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro, was more attractive than Mr Macron’s wife.
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The Amazon, dubbed “the lungs of the Earth” is one of the world’s major carbon sinks and is one of the world’s reservoirs for fresh water.
The region has a global effect on temperature, oxygen levels and rainfall.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have “significant doubts” over the deal.
Her main concern is the extent of deforestation in the Amazon.
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This year has had the highest rate of deforestation in the Amazon since 2007-2008.
Most of the deforestation has happened in Brazil for soya farming and grazing cattle.
There has been an increase of 30 percent deforestation in Brazil on 2019 levels.
Since 1970, over (270,000 square mi)e of the Amazon rainforest have been destroyed.
At the present rate the Amazon will lose 40 percent of its former area by 2030.
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