SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazil’s Foreign Relations Minister Mauro Vieira said on Wednesday the Mercosur bloc of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay has already sent the European Union their position on an European addendum to their long-awaited trade agreement.
Mercosur’s counterproposal follows a so-called side letter from the EU including environmental safeguards to address strong reservations expressed by many EU member countries about the deal, which has been under negotiation for two decades.
“I can’t guarantee the EU will accept it, but we will negotiate,” Vieira said in a radio interview, adding that negotiators from both sides had met virtually this week and will gather in person later this month in Brazil.
Vieira said Mercosur wants the EU to be “more flexible” on potential sanctions that could be imposed on the South American countries in case they failed to fully comply with European deforestation standards.
The minister said that Brazil already had a clear environmental policy in place since President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office in January, highlighting its goal of halting illegal deforestation in the Amazon (NASDAQ:) rainforest by 2030.
Lula has previously said the EU side letter contained unacceptable “threats” to penalize countries.
“We are confident about the negotiations,” Vieira said. “Both the EU and Mercosur have expressed how strategic this deal is.”
Brazil and the other Mercosur nations, he added, are “clearly” committed to working to protect the environment.