The French Foreign Trade Minister, Olivier Becht, said on Monday that The European Union and the Mercosur countries want to “take their time” to ratify a trade agreement in terms that “convene all parties,” in an interview with AFP at the start of a visit to Brazil.
The EU and the bloc made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay closed a trade agreement in 2019, after more than 20 years of complex negotiations. However, it has not yet been ratified, among various reasons due to questions from European producers and Europe’s concern about the environmental policy of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022).
“I have the impression that there is, both on the part of the EU and the Mercosur countries, the idea of taking their time to be able to find what is convenient for all parties,” Becht told AFP in a telephone interview during his first day of official visit to Brazil.
Becht recalled “France’s demands on the integration of the Paris Agreement as an essential clause, on the rules of deforestation, respect for the mirror clauses on French health and environmental regulations,” he detailed.
The Frenchman met with various ministers, including the head of Energy. On Tuesday he will travel to Sao Paulo, where he will visit the facilities of the French companies Thales and Airbus Helicopters.
On Friday, a French diplomatic source said during a conference call with journalists that ratification of the agreement still seemed to him to be on the distant horizon.
The president of Brazil, the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who took office in January, also assured a few days ago that the conclusion of the agreement could “take a little longer.”
Its head of Foreign Relations, Mauro Vieira, even described the European standards as “extremely rigid.”
Becht stressed that France “has always had strong economic relations with Brazil, even during the Bolsonaro period,” when diplomatic ties cooled.
“Today we live in continuity, but a continuity that occurs in a peaceful political climate,” he added.
His tour of South America continues in Chile on Thursday and Friday.