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Norway must say no to the Mercosur agreement

photo: CIFOR / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Handelskampanjen | 21 October 2020

Norway must say no to the Mercosur agreement

This is a Google translation of the statement originally published in Norwegian

Joint statement from several civil society organizations and farmers’ associations with requirements for the Mercosur agreement:

Over the past year, Norway has been in the final phase of negotiations on a free trade agreement with the Mercosur bloc (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina) through EFTA. We look with concern at what is now happening in Brazil, and how the agreement will contribute to exacerbating an already critical situation.

The policies pursued in Brazil undermine laws and institutions intended to protect rainforests, the environment and human rights. The result is deforestation which for the second year in a row is very high, with a loss of over 10,000 square kilometers of rainforest per year. At the same time, indigenous peoples’ rights and food security are under stronger pressure than in a long time. A trade agreement with Mercosur must solve the problems, not exacerbate them.

Clear signals from politicians, business, civil society and investors outside Brazil are one of the main reasons why the situation is not worse. When foreign actors who can influence interests in Brazil speak out, this creates a much-needed room for political change.

In a meeting with the Brazilian government, which today facilitates the burning of rainforest and savannah in favor of export-oriented production of soy and raw materials, a so-called sustainability chapter in the EFTA-Mercosur agreement will in practice be meaningless, as it is now according to the government. On the other hand, the negative consequences for the environment, human rights and small-scale food production could be enormous.

A similar sustainability chapter can be found in the EU’s agreement with Mercosur. The chapter is now criticized from several quarters for not being sufficiently binding to ensure the protection of the environment, indigenous peoples, food security and workers’ rights. The national assemblies in France, Austria and the Netherlands will therefore oppose the agreement as it stands today. Earlier in October, a separate decision was made in the European Parliament, which also says no to the agreement that is on the table.

The agreement Norway negotiates in EFTA is approximately similar to the one the EU has negotiated with the Mercosur bloc. It should therefore be a matter of course that Norway takes the same line as the European Parliament and dominant countries in this matter, and says no to the agreement as it stands now. Especially if Norway wants to be a driving force for biodiversity and the achievement of the UN’s sustainability goals.

The undersigned therefore believe that the agreement cannot be entered into until the following requirements are met:

  • The critical deforestation and environmental situation in Brazil is under control through a credible framework that also ensures indigenous peoples’ rights and sustainable food production.
  • Sustainability and human rights are paramount to the agreement. The sustainability chapter of the agreement must be binding and other parts of the agreement cannot undermine provisions that are to ensure sustainability and human rights.

Signed by:

Hege Skarrud , leader of Attac Norway

Embla Regine Mathisen , leader of Changemaker Norway

Anja Bakken Riise , leader The future is in our hands

Frode Pleym , head of Greenpeace

Anniken Storbakk , Secretary General of the Trade Campaign

Åsa Paaske Gulbrandsen , General Manager, Latin American Groups in Norway (LAG)

Therese Hugstmyr Woie , Head of Nature and Youth

Kjersti Hoff , leader, Norwegian Farmers ’and Smallholders’ Association (NBS)

Kari Asheim , Head of Politics, Communication and Market at the Rainforest Fund

Julie Christina Rødje , leader of Spire

 source: Handelskampanjen