A war of words has erupted between Brazil and France over the growing and importing of soy.
France president Emmanuel Macron ruffled the feathers of Brazil’s vice president when he linked the product to Amazon deforestation.
In the opening shots, Mr Macron suggested it would be better for the European Union to grow its own soy rather than importing from Brazil.
“To continue to depend on Brazilian soy would be to condone deforestation of the Amazon,” he said.
“We are consistent with our ecological ambitions, we are fighting to grow soy in Europe!”
Brazilian vice president Hamilton Mourão, however, hit back – suggesting the French president had little understanding of where most of Brazil’s soy comes from.
Speaking to reporters in French, just to add salt to the wounds, he said: “Mr Macron is no good!”
Mr Mourão insists that only a tiny proportion of the soy produced in his country comes from the Amazon.
Brazil, he said, had the competitive advantage over the French in agriculture, using a much smaller proportion of its land for farming than its European rival.
The European Union is the second largest importer of Brazil’s agricultural products after China – though France itself does not import much Brazilian soy.
The EU imported 8.4 million tonnes of soy from Brazil in 2020, a 61 per cent increase compared to 2019.
Brazil hopes to grow this trade even further through a deal between the EU and the Mercosur trade bloc, which also includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Mr Macron is one of the biggest opponents of any such agreement and has actively held up the negotiations.
He insists France cannot sign any deal with a country that does not respect the Paris Agreement on climate change.
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