Ambassador João Gomes Cravinho, EU ambassador in Brazil, believes that the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union (EU) will be achieved. The important thing, according to him, is not the date of the exchange offers, but the fact that the proposals are sufficiently robust for both parties. This Friday (27/11) there will be an “important meeting” in Brussels, where the EU trade ministers will decide whether there are conditions to change offers immediately or if any work before the formal exchange is necessary.
Cravinho took over the front of the delegation in Brasilia in July this year and personally talked to Samla Da Rosa, representative of EUBrasil. The ambassador was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal between 2005 and 2011, and his last position was as EU Ambassador in India, where he was in charge since 2011.
EUBrasil: In 2014, European investment in Brazil accounts for more than half of foreign investment in the country. Do you think the political moment that Brazil is experiencing will affect the attraction of investments?
Cravinho: First, European investors look to the medium and long term, so it is true that if we look at the financial markets, we see fluctuations from one day to the next according to the flavor of the occasion. However, what European entrepreneurs tell me is very positive. On investment, investors do not think much about what will happen tomorrow in the Congress, there are issues that are not crucial to investors. I believe this explains the continued high EU investment in Brazil and reflects the confidence that the European business community has in the medium and long term. Of course, if the economic situation continues for a long time, there will be a decline. Not so much because of the future, but because we live in this moment an increase of insufficient use of existing capacity.
EUBrasil: In your point of view, this moment of Brazilian political turmoil may affect the course of the agenda for the exchange of Mercosur-EU offers?
Cravinho: When we establish a trade agreement, it is not an agreement for one year or two, it is not in response to a situation, but rather an agreement for 20/30 years to score an extended period of time. It is no secret that Brazil is going through a difficult time politically, but the important thing is to have this perspective in the medium and long term, and I believe that trade negotiations can take place throughout the year 2016, because they are negotiations that prepare us well to take full advantage of more favorable circumstances.
EUBrasil: But don´t you think that fulfill the announced agenda is important, especially because this negotiation has gone on for 15 years?
Cravinho: It is true that in June, the ministers of trade and Commissioner Cecilia Malmström indicated willingness to exchange offers in 2015, we are five weeks of the end of the year, and it may still be possible. Maybe it will just happen in the first part of 2016, but deep within a relatively short time we will exchange offers and we will initiate a period that we want to be of intense negotiation with a view to reaching an agreement.
The key is that the offers should be sufficiently solid to reach an understanding and make way for intensive work with the defined goal to finding agreement as quickly as possible; and then have all the more complex process of screening by lawyers on both sides and ratified by the competent institutions.
I would stress that we are not discussing whether there will be an exchange of offers, but when. We must relativize this issue on the exact date, because if not now, will be in 1 month, 3 months, it ultimately ends up being insignificant. The fundamental is that the offers allow achieving the goal of reaching an agreement.
EUBrasil: When it comes to the part of solid offers on both sides, does it mean sitting at the table with at least 90% or the EU would accepting exchange offers with an offer from Mercosur to 87% market opening?
Cravinho: It is a somewhat esoteric conversation to discuss what is to be close to 90%, because the opening percentage is an important indicator, but we must see what is inside the offers and what is out of scope, what are the agreed deadlines for elimination of customs ports. It’s not just a matter of percentage. It is a factor, but there are other elements. We look with confidence to the months ahead, and I believe that in this week and in the next, we will have important meetings in Brussels; on this Friday (27), the trade ministers of the European Union will meet to decide whether there are conditions for trade deals already or if it takes some work before an exchange of formal offers. What is significant in the offer, will be the elimination of customs ports: fair, fast and the volume of trade to be released.
EUBrasil: How do you evaluate the Brazil-EU relationship?
Cravinho: Our relationship (Brazil – EU) is becoming more political. I.e, we exchanged more and more ideas, express concerns and gain the advice of each on matters of political matters. We, (EU), live in a complicated neighborhood with Russia, for example, which presents some difficulties in finding their ways; the southwest has a terrible situation experienced by Syria and conflicts over the middle east; problems in Libya and the search for a new balance by some Mediterranean countries. For Brazil, in the region in which it is, also makes the country live difficult times, as an example with the situation of Venezuela. It brings up more interest for either party in talking about concerns with the regions.
EUBrasil: What are the important projects in the bilateral relationship by theme?
Cravinho: I received, a month ago, many visits as the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, Comissioner for Climate Action & Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete and of the vice president of the European Commission, Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market. This high-level visits sequence comes clearly identify what is a very wide range of interests that exist in the EU-Brazil relationship. We have issues related to the environment and sustainability in large cities, which opens up numerous possibilities of working together and for the business world.
EUBrasil: Internet Governance.
Cravinho: The EU and Brazil defend net neutrality, argue that the Internet should be open, stable and accessible to all and both are synchronized and tuned on this issue, the agenda is positive and common. This agenda and the way to solve the issues will be decisive for the 7 billion inhabitants of this planet. Both are concerned with issues of cyber security, user privacy among other topics. We have a great similarity of views and together, a great ability to influence others.
EUBrasil: Climate Change.
Cravinho: We do not have a full convergence of views, but we have an understanding and ability to do something. Brazil won substantial international respect from the way it presented its INDC (Intended nationally Determined Contributions), ie actions Brazil proposed in order to mitigate issues such as deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, presented by President Dilma Rousseff in New York in September. On the other hand, Brazil also has a great capacity for dialogue with China, with the G77, with India and other countries with other perspectives and agendas. So, looking at what is the EU’s position as the leader – financing body for the fight to climate change and the position that Brazil has, I am convinced that in Paris the bilateral relationship will play an important role in generating international consensus.
*Brazil: Is among the 10 major trading partners of the European Union (EU). The EU is the main partner of Brazil, accounting for 20% of total exports. EU is the biggest foreign investor in Brazil, with investments in several sectors of the Brazilian economy. About 50% of foreign direct investment (FDI) received by Brazil in the last five years originated in the EU.
*Mercosur: EU is the largest trading partner of Mercosur, representing about 19.8% of total Mercosur trade with the rest of the world. It is also the largest foreign investor in the area in 2013 were EUR 110 billion.