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Brazil Eyes Farm Exports to India and Africa With EU Deal Deadlocked

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wants to expand agriculture exports to India and Africa, focusing more on new markets while trade talks between a South America trade bloc and the European Union languish.

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Lula wants to send a trade mission with over 300 entrepreneurs to the world’s most populous country by about mid-year, Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro said in an interview. The government is eyeing India’s growing appetite for goods including fruits, juices, coffee and black beans, he said.

Favaro said there are also opportunities to boost sales of meat and grains to Africa following Lula’s trip to Egypt and Ethiopia in February, when he met with leaders of the African Union, an association of the continent’s nations.

“He goes there, strengthens diplomatic relations and asks us to go after him with trade missions to open markets,” Favaro said following a conversation with the leftist head of state.

Brazil, an agricultural powerhouse that’s a top exporter of meat, soybeans and orange juice, is shifting its focus as trade deal talks between the Mercosur bloc and the EU remain deadlocked. European farmers fear an accord would bring cheap imports from countries with inferior environmental standards, and French President Emmanuel Macron stepped up his criticism earlier this year.

Read more: Farmers Flank EU Headquarters as Agriculture Ministers Meet

Latin America’s largest economy has taken advantage of Lula’s global popularity to open 96 new markets since the start of his third term in January 2023. The number of meat-packers qualified to export to China rose to 146 in March, according to the Brazilian government. On Tuesday alone, 38 plants were authorized by China and there are still another 39 awaiting approval.

During the interview, Favaro was informed that Brazil will be able to export beef, pork and poultry to the Philippines through the so-called “system accreditation” that bypasses importer missions to inspect Brazilian facilities.

“That was one of the priority demands of the animal protein sector,” Brazil’s Agricultural Defense Secretary Carlos Goulart said in the same interview.

While a breakthrough between Mercosur — comprising of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay — and the EU is possible, Brazil sees those trade talks at a gridlock, Favaro said. France has adopted a more protectionist stance on trade and the environment.

“We are not going to stay here complaining because we are having difficulty overcoming this barrier imposed by the European community,” he said. “If they don’t want to expand trade relations with agribusiness, then we will look at Asia, Africa, the Middle East.”

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