EU deforestation bill threatens Latin America, Asian and African countries

BRUSSELS— European lawmakers and EU member states inked a deal to ban the purchase of products such as cocoa, coffee, and soybeans that contribute to deforestation, increasing the pressure exerted on Brazilian exports. The list also encompasses palm oil, wood, beef, rubber, and derivate products like skins, chocolate, furniture, and paper.

In addition to Brazil, the EU deal should also affect countries like Indonesia, Argentina, Ghana, and Nigeria, as the importation of these products will be prohibited if linked to deforestation after December 2023, explained the European Parliament.

The legislation text specified that the ban aims to protect all kinds of forests. Importing companies will be deemed responsible for their supply chain and must be able to prove traceability through crop geo-location data.

“It’s the coffee we drink in the morning, the chocolate we eat, the charcoal we use in our barbecues, the paper in our books. It’s radical, and that’s what we’re going to do,” celebrated Pascal Canfin, who chairs the European Parliament’s environment committee.

According to the NGO WWF, EU is responsible for 16% of global deforestation through its imports and is the second biggest destroyer of tropical forests after China.

The text was put up for votes in November 2021 by the European Commission and accepted in general terms by the Member States. Still, MEPs voted in September to strengthen it with an expansion of the list of products, including rubber.

The European Parliament called for the regulation’s scope extended to other threatened ecosystems, such as the Savannah-like biome Cerrado (Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia), where some EU soy imports come from.

The Brazilian press agency O Globo published an article in September this year when the proposal was being discussed in the European bloc, in which the Brazilian Association of Soybean Producers (Aprosoja) classified the measure as “commercial protectionism disguised as environmental preservation.”

At that point, the EU Parliament approved the draft legislation, but it still needed to be endorsed by the 27 member states.