efe-epaBrasilia

France's foreign minister took the opportunity of his visit here Monday to say that Paris expects the Brazilian government to meet certain conditions as a prerequisite for French ratification of a wide-ranging economic agreement between the European Union and Mercosur.

The French government wants Brazil to abide by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate and to respect France's environmental and sanitary standards, Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a joint press conference with Brazilian counterpart Ernesto Araujo.

Paris would also like to see Brazil accept measures to protect French farmers in certain sensitive sectors, Le Drian said.

He said that Brazil's willingness to meet those conditions would weigh heavily when French legislators consider whether to ratify the pact signed last month by representatives of the EU and Mercosur - Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay - after more than two decades of negotiations.

France will not be rushed into ratifying the deal, Le Drian said.

"We will take some time to conduct our own national, complete, independent and transparent evaluation of the accord," the French foreign minister said.

The terms of the agreement have already sparked opposition in France among farmers, who fear competition in the form of cheaper food from Brazil and Argentina, two of the world's leading agricultural exporters.

French environmentalists, for their part, say that the opening of the European market to Brazilian agriculture could lead to further deforestation in Amazonia as producers seek to bring more land under cultivation, especially in light of statements by Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, dismissing concerns about the environment.

At the same time, Bolsonaro, who said during his 2018 campaign that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate, reversed that position after a recent meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Araujo said that in response to the French conditions, his government accepted the idea of creating a bilateral panel to discuss environmental protection.

"We concurred on establishing an informal - but very dedicated - working group that allows us to exchange information on the environmental issue in a more systematic and deeper way," Brazil's top diplomat said. EFE

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