Post-Brexit trade deal with Brazil unlikely amid strained relations between Lula and Tory government

Exclusive: Conservative minister accused of 'relaxing' to beat hardline Bolsonaro

There is little prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal with Brazil any time soon due to strained relations between Britain's Conservative government and the new government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, The Independent has learned.

Successive Tory ministers had previously sought good relations with hard-right leader Jair Bolsonaro while ignoring Lula, figures close to the newly elected president have shown.

The 77-year-old left winger made a stunning comeback on Sunday night in a narrow victory over populist Bolsonaro, five years after he was jailed for alleged corruption following an investigation initiated by his successor and political rival.

Britain has had minimal contact with Lula and her Labor Party in recent years, while a number of Conservative politicians have met Bolsonaro and his colleagues. In some cases, meetings took place before the latter became president but when his extremist views were well known.

Lula, described by Barack Obama as "one of the most popular politicians on Earth," has good relations with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and Sir Keir Starmer. But communication with the British Conservatives was "really limited to a congratulatory tweet from Rishi Sunak after Lula won the election," said a member of the new presidential team.

Eyebrows were also raised when Downing Street said Sunak might not attend the Cop27 summit in Egypt. Lula is an environmentalist and wants to reverse Bolsonaro's climate regressive actions.

"We heard that your prime minister will not be attending Cop27, which is surprising because it is a very important topic for the entire planet," said team leader Lula. "But now we are told that he has changed his mind, so there may be an opportunity for the prime minister to meet the president-elect."

A trade deal with Brazil – a member of the G20, and Latin America's largest economy and most populous nation – has been declared a priority for the UK government. It proposed an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) to Brazil in February this year but there has been little progress in negotiations, and a senior member of Lula's team said the stalemate was unlikely to end unless Britain made substantial changes to its terms.

"In our view, the proposal made by England is unbalanced and unfair in its current form," said team figure Lula. “They want access to financial markets, IT and education, but there are barriers to imports of Brazilian meat products, especially beef. They seem to have EU regulations despite Brexit."

In contrast, president-elect Lula said there were real prospects of a trade agreement within six months between South America's Mercosur bloc – which also includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – and the European Union.

The EU-Mercosur deal was meant to be finalized in 2019 but has fallen into limbo due to European concerns about Amazon deforestation and Bolsonaro's authoritarian rule. Lula's victory, officials say, has removed those obstacles.

In her role as secretary of state, days before she became prime minister, Liz Truss was questioned in the House of Commons by shadow Labor minister Fabian Hamilton about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest under Bolsonaro and allegations of human rights abuses by her government as well as prospects that she probably won't concede if they lose in the upcoming election.

“Given that [Ms Truss] has spent so much time fitting in with President Bolsonaro, rather than challenging him about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and attacks on human rights in Brazil, will she use her diplomatic pressure to help secure this election? independently observable, with all parties respecting the outcome and the aftermath?” Mr Hamilton asked,

The "fun" claim alludes to Ms Truss' visit to Brazil in April 2018, just days after Lula was jailed on corruption charges despite being the front-runner in the election at the time. The sentence, which prevented him from running, was later overturned by Brazil's Supreme Court which said the charges were fabricated.

Truss, then chief secretary of the Treasury, went to Brazil at the time to promote "free markets, an open economy and privatization". He met with officials in the administration of then president Michael Temer, who had been the subject of a number of corruption investigations and had sought to clear parts of the Amazon rainforest for commercial use – a move that led to such strong criticism later. revoked.

It has been claimed that, during the visit, Ms Truss and the British ambassador to Brasilia met Bolsonaro who will replace Temer.

In October 2019, Truss, then secretary of international trade, was asked by SNP lawmaker Martyn Day about “illegal deforestation [that] occurs in [Brazil's] Amazon rainforest – something the Paris agreement explicitly sets out to address and reduce” . He replied: "I firmly believe that free trade and free enterprise help us achieve our environmental goals through better technology, more innovation and more ingenuity."

Liz Truss was not the only Tory minister questioned about her ties to Bolsonaro's camp. In August 2019, then-trade minister Conor Burns was criticized for failing to raise the issue of the Amazon forest fires, which had become a particularly acute issue at the time, during a meeting with a Bolsonaro minister. Burns was furious in his praise of Bolsonaro's "outstanding" deputy economy minister Marcos Troyjo after meeting him to discuss "expanding trade and investment partnerships". Burns shared a photo of himself on Twitter drinking champagne with Brazilian officials after signing a new deal to "facilitate the ease of business" between countries.

Labor trade spokesman Barry Gardiner commented at the time: “While Bolsonaro is letting agribusiness burn the Amazon… a British government minister is busy calming Brazilian presidential officials. Instead of posing for photos with right-wing Brazilian politicians, ministers should ask Brazil to do everything they can to protect the rainforest." This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS.

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