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Greenpeace Netherlands leaks EU-Mercosur trade papers

07 December 2017
by greenpeace -- last modified 07 December 2017

Greenpeace Netherlands has released 171 pages of previously undisclosed documents from secret talks for an EU-Mercosur trade agreement.


The parties to the agreement – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and the EU – hope to announce a political agreement at a new round of talks taking place this week.

The leaks expose the failure of the European Commission and European governments to stick to commitments on transparency, said Greenpeace. NGOs warn that the EU-Mercosur trade deal is a major threat for the climate and the preservation of natural habitats in South America, including the Amazon and Cerrado regions in Brazil.

EU negotiators have offered Mercosur countries a 78,000-tonne increase in beef imports. Observers expect this offer to increase to 100,000 to 130,000 tonnes. Mercosur countries currently export about 200,000 tonnes of beef to the EU. According to media reports, the EU is in return seeking access for car exports.

Greenpeace trade campaigner Kees Kodde said: "Backroom trade talks undermine democracy and public trust in politicians. This trade deal in particular is overshadowed by serious corruption allegations in Brazil, the murders of environmental activists and indigenous leaders, and a major threat to the environment: Mercosur countries want to boost meat exports to Europe, which would push cattle farming into pristine habitats in the Amazon and the Cerrado regions in Brazil and the Chaco in Argentina. Why strike a trade deal that will mainly benefit European carmakers and industrial meat companies?"

The biggest export from Mercosur countries to the EU is soy, representing 22 per cent in export value. 94 per cent of the EU's soybean meal imports comes from these countries. Researchers expect imports of soy from Mercosur countries to increase as a result of the trade deal.

The impacts of soy production and cattle ranching on the Amazon forest and related ecosystems are well documented. Brazil's Amazonian region lost 37,000 km² of tree cover in 2016, an area roughly the size of Switzerland, nearly three times more than in 2015. Between 2013 and 2015, about 19,000 km² of forest was destroyed in the tropical savanna region of Cerrado in Brazil. Argentina's intensive livestock development plan for the north of the country foresees an increase in production of around 10 million cows, primarily for export to Europe and China. This expansion threatens 10 million hectares of protected forests in the Gran Chaco region.

Brazil is in the midst of a political crisis which has dismantled environmental and human rights safeguards, and exposed previously protected areas of rainforest to deforestation from agriculture.

The leaked EU-Mercosur papers published by Greenpeace Netherlands are dated July 2017 (plus one document from 2016). If it is concluded, the EU-Mercosur agreement could be the EU's biggest ever trade deal, covering a trade volume similar to the EU's trade with Japan.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.

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