French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting with the...

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting with the business community at the Sao Paulo State Industries Federation, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Macron is on a three-day official visit to Brazil. Credit: AP/Andre Penner

SAO PAULO — French President Emmanuel Macron told Brazilian executives on Wednesday that a proposed deal between the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur is bad for both parties.

Speaking at a forum in Sao Paulo, Macron said the Mercosur-EU deal is outdated and needs reworking to take climate change into account. His comments reinforced his opposition, which has been the most outspoken among European leaders.

“The trade deal with Mercosur as it is being negotiated now is a terrible deal. For you and for us,” Macron said, according to the translation into Portuguese by Sao Paulo's Industry Federation, whose headquarters held the event. “It was negotiated 20 years ago. We need to rebuild it.”

Macron opposes any agreement so long as South American producers fail to adhere to the same environmental and health standards as Europeans. Farmers raised concerns about pesticides during protests across Europe earlier this year.

Mercosur is formed by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

“You can try to reanimate that flame, but it is not the same thing. We need to rebuild it as the world is now. It is important to take diversity and the climate into account, and those are not being considered,” Macron added. “(We want) a responsible trade deal, that has development, climate and biodiversity. A deal for a new generation, with clauses that allow reciprocity.”

Macron hadn't mentioned the topic at the start of his three-day visit to Brazil, during a busy schedule in the Amazon city of Belem with his counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Prior to the trip, his office said a potential deal would not be on the agenda.

France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with Brazil's Vice...

France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with Brazil's Vice President Geraldo Alckmin as ge arrives for a meeting with businesspeople at the Sao Paulo State Industries Federation (FIESP) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Macron is on a three-day official visit to Brazil. Credit: AP/Andre Penner

“This deal, as it is, I don't defend it,” the French president said, with Brazil's Vice President Geraldo Alckmin sitting in the audience.

Alckmin, who is also Brazil's industry minister, didn't mention the negotiations in his own speech, but alluded to them.

“President Lula always says there needs to be reciprocity. It is win-win. We gain markets, we open our market,” he said. Some Brazilian economists have insisted the EU is not opening enough for Mercosur goods.

The French president also asked Brazilian companies to believe more in France, invest there and use it as a platform to Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting with the...

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting with the business community at the Sao Paulo State Industries Federation, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Macron is on a three-day official visit to Brazil. Credit: AP/Andre Penner

“I am sure we have a common agenda to overcome the great problems that come due to climate change and that will allow us to make an energy transition,” Macron said.

On Tuesday, Lula and Macron announced a plan to invest 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in the Amazon, including parts of the rainforest in neighboring French Guiana.

The two countries’ governments said in a joint statement the money will be spread over the next four years to protect the rainforest. It will be a collaboration of state-run Brazilian banks and France’s investment agency.

On Thursday, the French president will head to Brasilia to again meet with Lula.

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