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Delay in free trade agreement with Mercosur good news for human rights

15/12/2017

Delay in free trade agreement with Mercosur good news for human rights

Trade talks between the EU and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) are set to continue into next year after the latest round concluded without a deal.

The free trade agreement, which is very similar to TTIP, CETA and JEFTA, contains many elements that will pose major problems for human rights, social rights, environmental sustainability and cultural diversity.

Helmut Scholz MEP comments: "It is worrying that the Commission is negotiating a free trade agreement in secret on the basis of a 20-year-old, not-yet-published mandate with the Mercosur countries, that will accelerate deregulation, liberalisation and austerity in both regions."

“On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, this kind of free trade agreement will mainly bring additional profits to agribusiness and obviously increase the negative expansion of monoculture."

"It will also make it very costly for small and middle-size farms to compete and to maintain sustainable rural development. The agreement will make it difficult for them to bring production and productivity into accordance with the obligations of the Paris protocol on climate change and the respective UN Sustainable Development Goals for the environment. The European Commission itself estimates that at least 33,000 people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture and cattle breeding will lose their jobs."

“It is astonishing that the Commission is ignoring its own impact assessment, which raises the alarm about the dramatic human and environmental consequences for the indigenous people in the Amazon region as a result of expanding the use of pesticides and GMOs, and increasing exports of ethanol, beef and soy."

“Furthermore, such a free trade agreement and the liberalisation of services it contains, including financial services, will impede the very necessary development of public services and programmes against poverty that the previous governments had developed in Brazil and Argentina."

"It will facilitate even more tax evasion and money laundering, where several members of the current Argentinian government including President Macri himself are already deeply implicated in the Panama Papers scandal."

“This agreement will create new difficulties for industries - and the jobs linked to them - in the Mercosur countries, and would anchor those countries into the role of being primary goods, commodities and energy suppliers. It will also endanger SMEs by liberalising local public procurement processes and opening these up to transnational companies."

“The treaty could also hinder access to essential medicines as it will further constrain the possibilities to apply international treaty flexibilities regarding intellectual property rights and patents. This runs counter to UN recommendations and the positions repeatedly expressed by the European Parliament calling for a separation between medicine prices and research and development costs.”

Xabier Benito MEP, raises concerns over the political implications of the agreement:

“How could the Commission initiate an agreement containing a human rights clause, with two Presidents –Temer in Brazil and Cartes in Paraguay- who are in power as result of coups against democratically elected Presidents, and a third one, Macri in Argentina, who is renewing the practice of disappearance, murder and imprisonment of opponents?”

“Furthermore, Presidents Macri and Temer are currently implementing a roadmap of cuts to social rights' and a wave of privatisations that are very much in the interests of European transnational corporations.”

"53 human rights defenders and environmental activists have been murdered in Brazil this year alone. The agreement will boost mining, agricultural and energy megaprojects with a huge human rights cost. It´s extremely worrying that the new agreement will not include any sanctioning mechanism able to ensure its environmental and human rights clauses."

GUE/NGL works to promote a shift in EU trade policy in which human rights; job creation and environmental sustainability would be prioritised over the profits of transnational corporations.

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