March 4. 2024. 8:12

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Mercosur deal on the agenda as German ministers visit South America


German economy and agriculture ministers embarked on a six-day visit to South America this weekend to advance trade and climate action amid ongoing discussions about the planned EU-Mercosur trade agreement.

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir, both Greens, started their six-day trip to Brazil and Colombia this weekend with meetings with their respective counterparts on the agenda and a trade delegation in tow.

Berlin hopes to deepen cooperation with both countries that recently held national elections.

“The changes of government in both countries has opened the door to more intensive strategic cooperation,” Habeck said in a statement ahead of the trip.

In Brazil, the elections in October last year saw left-wing candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeat far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who, among other things, was criticised for not protecting the Amazon rainforest. Colombia’s presidential election in May 2022 resulted in Gustavo Petro being the first left-wing candidate to be elected president.

Both German ministers hope to reconcile boosting trade links with protecting EU climate and environmental standards by cooperating with South American governments on sustainability.

“More sustainability and strategically strengthening our trade relations – with the Mercosur agreement, we have the chance that both go hand in hand,” Özdemir told DPA.

The new Brazilian and Colombian governments are “important partners on the common path towards a sustainable transformation of our global agricultural and food systems,” he added.

The trip comes as EU leaders continue to have opposing views on whether to agree to a trade deal. While France and Austria, among others, have expressed clear criticism of the EU-Mercosur agreement, German Chancellor Scholz is in favour of it.

(Julia Dahm | EURACTIV.de)