Published 24/06/2023 12:08 | Edited 6/26/2023 4:57 PM
From Paris, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said, this Saturday (24th), before returning to Brazil, that he still believes in a trade agreement with the European Union in partnership with Mercosur. Although the parliamentary majority alleges environmental motivations, for Brazilians, protectionism has made it difficult to approve the agreement.
Lula said that the response from the countries of the South regarding the additional letter from European countries should be answered by the end of this year. “The fact that there are two nerve points and two points considered essential for both sides, we cannot reach an agreement with these, but we will improve other things. We need to make an agreement with the European Union and the European Union needs Mercosur, with South America and Latin America. We are to respond to an additional letter from the European Union and I think that by the end of the year we will have a decision on the matter”, she declared to the press.
Lula also said that the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has difficulties in the French Congress, and that it is normal for the country to defend its agriculture. Macron is an enthusiastic supporter of the deal, but he faces strong opposition to any initiative in the legislature. Both right-wing and left-wing parties were firmly opposed to the risk of Brazilian agricultural imports into France.
“He [Macron] there are difficulties in Congress, but if we can talk to our friends on the left to be able to help, so that the Mercosur agreement is approved, we will talk to all our friends in France to convince them of the importance, because it is not protectionism that will help”.
Lula denounced the hypocrisy of rich countries when they defend free trade for themselves and protectionism against developing countries. This is what the US has also done with Chinese industry and that of other Asian countries.
“From the 1980s onwards, all people have said is that the more openness the better, the more free trade the better, but when developing countries sometimes try to compete on equal terms, the richest become protectionist”.
In the French capital, Lula had a bilateral meeting with the French president and discussed the approval, last week, by the National Assembly of France, of a resolution against the ratification of the Mercosur-European Union (EU) agreement. Lula is against the easing of the rules on government purchases provided for in the agreement.
According to the president, the matter is also important for the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac). “The subject is important for the European Union and Mercosur, but also for us to establish a new round of conversation to see if we also reach an agreement at Celac”. The EU and CELAC will hold a summit in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, between the 17th and 18th of July.
During the press conference, Lula explained why he did not meet with the prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Bin Salman. “I want to talk to all the people who want to invest in Brazil, even to find out what the quality of the investments is. I just wasn’t able to attend the meeting. I’m going to ask the Itamaraty to invite you to go to Brazil to discuss business with Brazilian businessmen. We have many interests in Saudi Arabia doing business in Brazil, especially in terms of the energy transition, because we are going to present a major project this July,” he announced.
The press office at the Planalto Palace informed on Friday (23) that the meeting that president Lula was to have with the prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Bin Salman, was cancelled. According to the government, the appointment with Macron ended too late, reinforcing the need to cancel the agenda with the Arab prince.
Lula reinforced that the cancellation of the meeting has no connection with the jewels presented by the prince to former president Jair Bolsonaro, which were supposed to go to the Presidency’s collection but were appropriated by him. “Regardless of the jewel – also because this is not up to me -, if there is a Saudi businessman who wants to invest in Brazil, the country will talk because we need to make the Brazilian economy grow,” he pointed out.
According to the press office, Lula has had a “very intense schedule” on this trip to France and Italy. The dinner between the Brazilian president and Bin Salman would take place in the early evening, Paris time.