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Brazil Trade Agreement: Environmental Standards

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 14 January 2021

What discussions she has had with her Brazilian counterpart on enhancing environmental standards as part of a bilateral trade agreement. (910747)

Britain will not sacrifice her high standards of environmental protection in any future free trade agreements. At present, we do not have a trade agreement with Brazil, but we are clear that more trade does not need to come at the expense of our values. The Secretary of State and I raised the pressing issue of deforestation most recently on 11 November at our joint economic and trade committee with Brazil.

I thank the Minister for his response, but in recent correspondence I have had with the Brazilian ambassador, he has refused even to acknowledge that deforestation is an issue in the Amazon. We have also seen recent reports in the press about terrible working conditions on Brazilian beef farms, which have been described as akin to modern slavery. What more can be done to ensure not only that these concerns are raised in discussions with Brazil but that any future bilateral trade deal is conditional on Brazil taking action to stop the abuse of workers and the deforestation?

The hon. Lady is right: there is, of course, more that can be done, which is why the United Kingdom has already committed £259 million to Brazil through its international climate finance programme to tackle deforestation. For example, the early movers programme rewards pioneers in forest conservation, and another programme led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has protected the clearance of something like 430,000 acres in Brazil.

As we all know, Scotland opposed leaving the European Union, and leaving the European Union is going to cost the UK about 4.9% of GDP. Many are concerned that a trade deal with Brazil will be a threat to UK poultry and meat production. Will the Minister ensure that lower meat production standards do not get on the table in any way, shape or form? What is the GDP gain of a deal with Brazil? Do the Government have that figure, or is it similar to the Australia trade deal, which is projected to be 245 times smaller than the Brexit damage that the Tory Government have foisted upon the UK?

I thank the Chairman of the International Trade Committee for his question. I can be clear that we are firmly committed to upholding our high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards now that we are outside the EU. Indeed, we have the agility and flexibility to enhance them where we believe that that is right. We can also go further on trade. That includes recently opening new opportunities for fish by securing approval from Brazil for seven new British fisheries facilities, which means that companies can now sell high-quality British fish to an import market that was worth almost £1 billion in 2019.