The victory of left-wing Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva in Sunday’s runoff election in Brazil may get ratification of the Mercosur trade deal between South America and the EU back on track.
Under the Bolsonaro regime the process of finalising the 2019 deal halted due to EU concerns about rainforest clearing in the Amazon basin. Lula has made clear he’s keen to tackle deforestation, and said in September that he would conclude the agreement with the EU in the first six months of his premiership.
However, completion of the deal, which also includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, is still not guaranteed. Even if the environmental concerns are met, opposition within Europe from farming organisations remains high. The deal would allow for the importation of an extra 100,000t of beef into the European market.
Several countries have expressed concerns about the deal, while in Ireland Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Matt Carthy TD previously called on the Government to abandon further progress on it.
Brussels’ response to the national-level opposition has been to look at breaking the 2019 deal into components, allowing it to quickly agree on the bits that can be handled at EU level, while leaving other arguments to national parliaments.
With Lula also seeking to re-negotiate some aspects of the deal, it seems likely that it will take time to finalise.
However, the EU is motivated to quickly complete as much of the deal as it can as China is also vying for influence in the region now that Bolsonaro is gone. In the end, geopolitical concerns may end up outweighing farmer protests about beef imports.