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Montevideo, April 25th 2024 - 07:33 UTC

 

 

Spanish PM insists before Lula: EU needs new partners such as Mercosur

Friday, March 8th 2024 - 08:47 UTC
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Brazil and Spain are facing “extremism, the denial of politics, and hate speech, fueled by fake news,” Lula told Sánchez Brazil and Spain are facing “extremism, the denial of politics, and hate speech, fueled by fake news,” Lula told Sánchez

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Wednesday signed a series of bilateral agreements at the Planalto Palace. The documents dealt with communications; science, technology, public administration, and health issues, Agencia Brasil reported. Both heads of government also concurred on the importance of expanding political, commercial, and investment relations.

 Both leaders also discussed the free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union (EU). Sánchez said his country is not against it and insisted he hoped it would soon come into force. Following the war in Ukraine, which hit Europe's energy supply, European countries have learned that they need to diversify and find new trade partnerships, Sánchez explained.

“I would like to thank President Lula for his leadership in advancing this agreement. It is an initiative that strengthens our trade and investment ties and contributes to social and environmental benefits. Latin America and the European Union are natural allies,” said Sánchez, also highlighting the common vision of Brazil and Spain in defending issues such as social justice, a green and just transition, and international cooperation with a reformed financial system.

Lula pointed out that one of the obstacles to finalizing the Mercosur-EU agreement comes from France's protectionism regarding agriculture. “It is no longer a matter of willing to or liking it; politically, economically, and geographically, we need to make this agreement and send a signal to the world that we need to move forward,” Lula noted.

Approved in 2019 after 20 years of negotiations, the Mercosur-EU agreement needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all the countries in both blocs to enter into force. The negotiations involve 31 countries. The agreement covers both tariff and regulatory issues, such as services, public procurement, trade facilitation, technical barriers, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and intellectual property.

Sánchez's agenda in Brazil is focused on European investments including a visit to the state of São Paulo. He and Lula also participated in a gathering with Spanish businessmen, together with Brazil's vice-president and Minister of Development, Industry, Trade, and Services, Geraldo Alckmin.

According to the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, the volume of Spanish investments in Brazil is significant. “By the criterion of ultimate controller, Spain has established itself as the second largest investor in the country [behind the United States], with a presence in the energy, banking, telecommunications, and insurance sectors, among others.”

More than a thousand Spanish companies are present in the Brazilian market, such as Telefónica and Banco Santander. The European country's total stock of investments in Brazil is estimated at US$ 59 billion, with annual inflows of around US$ 3.3 billion in recent years.

“Brazil is a very attractive destination for Spanish companies, especially those involved in energy transition and in combating and mitigating climate change,” said Sánchez, highlighting the actions of the Brazilian nation to ensure political and economic stability, such as the approval of the fiscal framework and tax reform.

President Lula stated that Brazil possesses many positive attributes that have successfully attracted interest from international investors. He highlighted Telefónica and Santander as examples, noting that these companies have already invested in Brazil and that many others are eager to do the same.

Sánchez also highlighted the consolidation of the political relationship and permanent dialogue between Brazil and Spain. For the Spanish leader, the two countries must “continue to stand firm in defense of democracy and protect it against extremism, such as the events of Jan. 8 [2023]” in Brasília when vandals stormed the headquarters of the three branches of government in an attempt to stage a coup d'état.

Lula said that Brazil and Spain are facing “extremism, the denial of politics, and hate speech, fueled by fake news.”

“Our experience in confronting the extreme right, which acts in coordination internationally, teaches us that all democrats must unite. We cannot compromise with totalitarianism, nor allow ourselves to be paralyzed by perplexity and uncertainty in the face of these threats,” he stressed.

In the Brazilian president's view, the defense of democracy is “inevitably” linked to the fight against all forms of exclusion. Lula cited cases of racism, such as those involving Real Madrid's Brazilian footballer Vinicius Júnior, who was called “a monkey” [by a group of unruly fans].

“Brazil and Spain have experienced episodes of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia, including in high-profile sports. Only an inclusive social project will allow us to build prosperous, free, democratic, and sovereign societies,” said Lula.

In addition to the bilateral agenda, both leftwing leaders addressed topics such as the reform of the governance of multilateral institutions and other global issues, including the crisis in the Middle East, particularly the serious humanitarian situation in Gaza and the prospects for progress toward a two-state solution, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

After the meeting at the Planalto palace, Sánchez was welcomed by Lula for lunch at the Foreign Ministry (Itamaraty Palace) alongside Supreme Federal Court (STF) Chief Justice Luís Roberto Barroso and other authorities. The Spanish leader was also greeted in Congress by the Speakers Rodrigo Pacheco of the Senate and Arthur Lira of the Lower House.

In April last year, Lula made an official visit to Spain, at which time cooperation agreements were signed in the areas of education, labor, and scientific research.

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