Macron warns EU-Mercosur deal hangs on Bolsonaro

Macron warns EU-Mercosur deal hangs on Bolsonaro

French president Emmanuel Macron threw cold water over the prospects of a long-awaited trade accord between Mercosur and the EU.

On Thursday in Argentina, Macron said he is unwilling to sign a “broad trade” deal if Brazil’s incoming far-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro, pulls his country out of the Paris climate accord.

“There has been a major political shift in Brazil recently, so Mercosur has to consider the impact of this change,” Mr Macron said, referring to the election of Mr Bolsonaro, during a joint press conference with Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, who is hosting the G20 summit beginning Friday in Buenos Aires.

“From the French side, I do not agree with signing broad trade agreements with countries that do not respect the Paris agreement,” he added.

After 20 years of talks, the EU and Mercosur — whose full active members are Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay — have agreed on most chapters in the accord, but several thorny agricultural issues remain. A deal with the EU would be the first major trade pact signed by Mercosur since its origins in the 1990s.

“I cannot ask French farmers and workers to change their production habits to lead the ecological transition, then to sign trade agreements with countries that do not do the same. We want balanced agreements,” the French president said in Buenos Aires, while also on an official visit to the country.

On Wednesday, Mr Bolsonaro said he asked the Brazilian government to withdraw an offer to host the United Nations climate conference in 2019. “I recommended my future foreign minister to avoid hosting this event here,” Mr Bolsonaro said. His future foreign minister has called climate change a Marxist plot.

Mr Bolsonaro himself has once threatened to withdraw Brazil from the Paris climate agreement, but his current stance on the issue remains unclear. Brazil, home to the largest chunk of the Amazon rainforest, is a major agricultural producer and many in the agribusiness sector feel such a move could impact their reputation.