Argentina and Brazil, dissatisfied with the environmental position of the EU

PUERTO IGUAZÚ, Argentina.— Brazil and Argentina, the largest South American economies, described as “unacceptable” and “partial” the environmental position of the European Union (EU) in the trade agreement with Mercosur, during a summit of the bloc in which the positions on Venezuela divided again.

The European financial bloc “presents us with a partial vision of sustainable development, excessively focused on the environment,” said Argentine President Alberto Fernández, host of the meeting in Puerto Iguazú.

The EU and Mercosur, which also includes Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, are trying to finalize a free trade agreement after reaching an agreement in principle in 2019, after more than two decades of tough negotiations, without its ratification yet.

But an additional document to the agreement presented in March by the European block of 27 countries, with environmental requirements related to the agricultural sector, generated disagreement among the South American countries.

That document “is unacceptable. Strategic partners do not negotiate on the basis of mistrust and the threat of sanctions,” emphasized Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Fernández echoed that point: “No one can condemn us to be suppliers of the raw material that others industrialize and then sell to us at exorbitant prices.”

With 62% of South America’s population and 67% of its GDP, Mercosur is the largest trading bloc on the continent.

But the asymmetries between its large economies and the smaller ones of Uruguay and Paraguay make it difficult to reach consensus.

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