Representatives of the federal government and the private sector said on Wednesday, in an online event at the World Trade Organization (WTO), that Brazil wants to lead sustainable trade and agricultural production. The push is a reaction to the international perception that the country is the bad guy in the environmental field amid signals sent by the Bolsonaro administration.
The Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) and the Brazilian mission to the WTO organized a seminar on the country’s agricultural production at the entity’s Public Forum, which takes place this week with the participation of NGOs, universities and government representatives.
Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO, Alexandre Parola, started the debate saying “Brazil is an agroenvironmental powerhouse” by any measure and standard. In 2020, agribusiness accounted for almost half of Brazil’s exports (48%). From January to August this year, the sector’s shipments yielded $84 billion, according to the National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA), and the total could reach $120 billion in 2021, according to one participant in the event.
Mr. Parola also cited Jair Bolsonaro’s speech at this year’s UN General Assembly, when the Brazilian president said that “our modern, sustainable low-carbon agriculture feeds more than 1 billion people in the world using only 8% of the national territory.”
“No country in the world has environmental legislation as comprehensive as Brazil,” Mr. Parola said. “Our Forest Code should serve as an example for other countries.” Mr. Bolsonaro’s speech at the UN as a whole was criticized because of distorted or false data on several topics.
According to Mr. Parola, it is also necessary to avoid old and new trade barriers and measures, including subsidies and sanitary and technical issues, “which can be arbitrary, disguised and cause unjustifiable restrictions to international trade.” For him, Brazil “is ready to lead the sustainable future of international trade and agricultural production.”
Marcos Jank, an agribusiness specialist and a professor at business school Insper, was the debate’s moderator. He highlighted the importance of the relationship between sustainable agriculture and trade. He recalled that Brazil is accused of being an environmental nemesis due to the high level of deforestation, but highlighted that the country is an example of high productivity, renewable energy and forest agreement. Mr. Jank pointed out that 98% of Brazilian soy production is not linked to deforestation in the Amazon.
Marcello Brito, president of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag), called on foreigners to get to know the Brazilian agriculture, because Brazil will be responsible for an even greater share of the global food supply in the future. Mr. Britto noted that by 2030 Asia will account for 60% of the consumption of the middle class globally. And that this will affect trade and food production. He highlighted that while Europe emphasizes sustainability, China and several other countries focus on food security.
For Juliana Lopes, head of sustainability at Amaggi, one of Brazil’s largest grain producer and processing company, the traceability of products can help point out where the production is better from the environmental standpoint as well. She mentioned a study that shows that Brazilian soy and corn have a low environmental footprint (including emissions with inputs, storage and transportation), and that emissions in soy production are twice as low as those of Ukraine and Canada for the delivery of the product in Europe. Brazilian cotton, on the other hand, have emissions 2.5 times lower in relation to the American product, according to her.
Ligia Dutra, director of international relations at CNA, and Orlando Ribeiro, secretary of international affairs at the Ministry of Agriculture, cited the importance of reforming the rules of global agricultural trade. According to them, the gigantic domestic subsidies offered by rich countries to their farmers, including in Europe, are an example of unsustainable production.
Source: Valor international