European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that she expects the Mercosur trade deal, agreed in June 2019, to be signed off by the end of this year.

She was speaking in Brazil to the the National Confederation of Industry in the first leg of her tour through Latin America and told the audience that she and President Lula da Silva of Brazil have “both today committed that we want to conclude it as soon as possible, the latest by the end of this year”.

Her speech also focused on selling the merits of the EU green deal and she spoke about Brazil embarking on a similar path and having an unlimited potential for renewable energy.

She also commended President Lula for promising to reach net zero deforestation by 2030 and talked up the similarities between the two regions.

'Difficult' for Irish farmers

The Mercosur trade deal is particularly difficult for Irish farmers, in that it gives the South American countries access to a further 99,000t beef quota.

The deal, which was concluded under the watch of former Irish Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan in June 2019, has met fierce resistance from the Irish and EU farm organisations.

This was added to by the environmental lobby, outraged by the escalation of rainforest clearance during President Bolsonaro’s time in office between 2018 and 2022.

The deal will require approval by the EU institutions and many MEPS have committed to opposing it.

It will also require national government approval and the Austrian government has already committed to opposing the deal. France is also lukewarm about the deal.

An annex on environmental controls is currently under negotiation between the EU and Brazil.