Government minister claims trade deals with Brazil will help solve Amazon fire crisis

PUBLISHED: 16:52 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:01 03 September 2019

An area smolders in the Alvorada da Amazonia region in Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

An area smolders in the Alvorada da Amazonia region in Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Increasing trade with Brazil - rather than calling for sanctions - will help solve the Amazon fires crisis, a government minister has claimed.

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Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said more than 120,000 people have signed an e-petition calling for sanctions to be placed on Brazil because of "escalating deforestation", and asked what pressure has been placed by the UK government on Brazil's leadership to tackle the wildfire crisis.

But foreign office minister Chris Pincher said more trade with Braizl was the most effective way to do that.

He said: "We want to help Brazil with its difficulties in those terrible fires, but also make it clear we want to trade with them because that is a way of building their economy and ensuring the sorts of fires that are currently raging are put out and stay out."

Shadow foreign office minister Helen Goodman said cutting beef tariffs incentivises destruction of the rainforest.

Pincher continued: "As the honourable lady ought to know, high agricultural tariffs hurt the poorest.

"That will only encourage them to do the easy thing, which is to burn land rather than to farm it sustainably and to protect the rainforest.

"Mercosur is a sensible free trade agreement that should be encouraged.

"In the fullness of time, I trust that we also will undertake a free trade deal with Brazil.

"More details of that, I'm sure, are to come."

Pincher said he will be meeting the Brazilian ambassador"to reaffirm our commitment to working in partnership with Brazil on a range of issues, including the environment".

He added: "In response to the very serious fires, the prime minister at the G7 announced £10 million protection and restoration of rainforest, and that's in addition to the £120 million of funding we provide through our other programmes."

SNP MP Chris Law said the £10 million the government has announced for rainforest restoration is "paltry compared with the amount spent on advertising for the Brexit debacle".

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