Why is the EU-New Zealand trade deal unsustainable?  – EURACTIV.fr

Why is the EU-New Zealand trade deal unsustainable? – EURACTIV.fr

A few days before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), the European Parliament will decide on Wednesday (22 November) on a trade liberalization agreement between the European Union and New Zealand that will lead to the import of tens of thousands of tons of food over 20,000 square kilometers of… Food and a significant increase in global warming gas emissions. Is this acceptable in 2023? no.

Maxime Coombes is an economist and Director of the “Trade – Transport” mission at the International Association of Technicians, Experts and Researchers (AITEC).

In the columns of Euractiv France, MEP (Renewal) Marie-Pierre Vedrine, member of the Renewal Group and Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on International Trade (INTA), confirmed support for this agreement and called for a vote in favor of it. ratification. Although we can no longer count the warnings issued by scientists and reports issued by United Nations agencies calling for an immediate and significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, this position seems dangerous and unacceptable.

With the full support of the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, negotiations on a trade liberalization agreement between the European Union and New Zealand began in 2018. They have continued during the COVID-19 pandemic, with greater uncertainty, while there has been no shortage of political leaders making promises. Public opinion is the process of conveying activities that are considered “strategic”.

From now on, European parliamentarians must vote on an agreement that will eliminate almost all tariffs on goods and services exchanged between the EU and New Zealand.

according to Impact study This plan could generate a 30% increase in trade from the European Commission. Thousands of additional containers will cross the world’s oceans while one will take around 40 days to reach a European port from Auckland.

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Let’s be clear: the discussion is not “for or against trade with New Zealand”. This already exists, permitted and reinforced by WTO rules, in particular through import quotas already in place. The question is whether, in 2023, we should increase imports, especially agricultural products, from a country located 20,000 kilometers from the European Union, rather than linking current and future trade to reducing gas emissions.

After seven years of implementation, imports can be made without customs duties from a country 20,000 kilometers away from the European Union (details in Note Aitec decoder):

  • Apples, kiwi, onions, wine, fish, shellfish, honey, etc., without limits;
  • 38 thousand tons of sheep meat;
  • 10,000 tons of beef;
  • 15,000 tons of butter;
  • 25 thousand tons of cheese;
  • 15 thousand tons of powdered milk.

The same impact study predicts a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting goods and increased production to be exported. According to the impact study published by the European Commission itself, the agreement between the European Union and New Zealand is expected to have an impact on climate change through “its impact on the volume of economic activity in the agricultural sector, in particular the meat and dairy sectors.” Which are major generators of methane and nitrous oxide, two of the most powerful greenhouse gases, in New Zealand, in addition to “expected additional trade flows between the European Union and New Zealand that will lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the transport of goods.”

How can MEPs, who were quick to defend the EU’s climate ambition, then defend such an agreement? This is mainly because this agreement will demonstrate some form of reciprocity of standards between the two regions and because the Paris Climate Agreement will be recognized as a key provision in the sustainable development chapter of the trade agreement.

These two arguments do not hold up when studying the text of the agreement.

This condition, presented by the European Commission as the “most progressive” of the agreements, speaks more about the unsustainability of the other agreements than about the supposedly ideal nature of this agreement. The “reciprocity of standards in imports” that Emmanuel Macron has promised for many years has not yet been achieved. New Zealand farmers have the right to use products such as atrazine and diflubenzuron, two chemicals considered toxic and whose use was banned on European soil in 2003 and 2021 respectively.

Brussels and Paris welcome the fact that the agreement includes a “model mirror procedure” that makes it possible not to import meat from fattened cows. Feeding fields (Industrial fattening centers). Except there is almost none Feeding fields In New Zealand, livestock farming has historically relied on grazing. Crazy, right?

On the other hand, only very serious violations of the Paris Climate Agreement (departure) and ILO core standards can be subject to sanctions under the sustainable development chapter of the agreement. This is highly unlikely, and this new possibility is not enough to turn this liberalization agreement into a sustainable agreement.

In this Agreement, nothing obligates stakeholders to link the implementation of the EU-New Zealand Agreement to the effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The nature of the agreement itself has not changed: it is still a question of increasing trade flows between the two parties, without these flows being conditional on improving the social and environmental conditions in which goods and services are produced. .

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Finally, violations of commitments made regarding biodiversity, ending fossil fuel subsidies, combating deforestation and poaching, gender equality and corporate responsibility cannot be subject to sanctions.

There are many reasons for members of the European Parliament to vote against ratifying this agreement. Not to vote for an agreement that would increase greenhouse gas emissions, and to demand a complete review of European trade policy. In particular, on behalf of these two reasons, A Fifty civil society organizations (Including ActionAid, Aitec, Friends of the Earth, Attac, Bloom, CGT, Confederation Paysanne, FSU, Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme, France Nature Environnement, Generations Futures, Notre Affaire à Tous, Veblen Institute and the national association Stop. CETA /Mercosur), and Thousands of Internet users I posted communication So that European parliamentarians, including Marie-Pierre Vedrine, do not ratify this agreement!

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