House Democrats increase pressure on Brazilian agricultural exports

house democrats brazil trade
U.S. Congressman Tom Suozzi. Photo: Lev Radin/Shutterstock

In opposition to the enforcement of the Brazil-U.S. Trade Protocol on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers Tom Suozzy and Chellie Pingree decided to co-sponsor Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s Forestal Act of 2021.

Under discussion in five House committees, the bill aims to “combat illegal deforestation by prohibiting the importation of products made wholly or in part of certain commodities produced on land undergoing illegal deforestation, and for other purposes.” 

The draft follows in the footsteps of similar initiatives already presented in the European Union and the United Kingdom. If signed into law, the resolution would severely impact agricultural exports from Brazil. 

Foreign Minister Carlos França has directed diplomats to counter the push by denying that Amazon deforestation is fueling Brazil’s commodity exports. Senior Brazilian government officials dismiss the initiatives as “trade protectionism.”

“In 2020, the U.S. imported processed cowhides and beef products valued at more than USD 500 million from Brazil, where cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon forest and other biomes, and an estimated 95 percent of all deforestation was not in full compliance with applicable laws,” points out Mr. Blumenauer’s bill. Other ten democrats signed the draft as co-sponsors.

Back in June 2020, Messrs. Suozzi and Blumenauer were among the signatories of a letter from the U.S. Congressional Committee on Ways and Means, directed at the Trade Representative’s Office to halt trade agreement discussions with the Jair Bolsonaro administration.