The EU talks with Latin American countries are flagged as development-friendly. Yet one of the leaders said bi-regional partnership means fighting protectionist forces in Europe. It was a nod to fears in France and some other EU members, for their agricultural sectors.
French environmentalist farmer-turned-politician José Bové questions whether the deals being made will benefit many people or only a few powerful interests. Bové, now an elected member in the European Parliament, issued a critical warning. He said: “I think these agreements are dangerous. They’re dangerous for South American producers and dangerous for European producers. For example, the agro-food industry today wants to export huge amounts of milk, to try to offload surplus; that’s only for its benefit. It risks harming major milk producers Uruguay, Argentina and others.”
The South Americans hold major stakes in global agricultural trade, with soy and maize and livestock. Europe is an important market for them. In return, European services companies and other industries also want to have better access in the South America region.
Bové said: “There are huge negotiations going on; the big service multinationals want to conquer the South American market for them to develop in, but to the detriment of the territory’s resources, farmers’ futures and consumers’ health.”
European car makers will be given tariff-free access to Central American markets for 10 years. Between the EU and Mercosur, however, EU sources say there are significant competition concerns over similar products made by either side — both agricultural and industrial.