France will not ratify a draft trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur bloc “in its current form,” the country’s Trade Minister Franck Riester told AFP on Thursday.
The government wants guarantees on the protection of the environment and on health norms from Mercosur’s members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay before it approves the deal that was agreed in principle in 2019 after two decades of negotiations, he said.
“We will not be satisfied with a political declaration on environmental commitments from the four countries concerned,” Riester said after a meeting of a French committee on trade which includes MPs, government officials, NGOs, parliamentarians and corporate leaders.
The EU’s draft deal with the South American trade bloc would create a free-trade area of more than 750 million people.
But the ratification process has stalled among the EU’s 27 members, especially France and Germany, notably over concerns about Brazil’s perceived lack of commitment to protecting the Amazon rainforest.
A French government-commissioned report last year found the deal would fuel an increase in South American beef production and give rise to a 25-percent rise in deforestation.
Brazil said the report was proof of France’s “protectionist interests.”