LatinNews Daily - 26 April 2023

BRAZIL: Lula arrives in Spain to push EU trade deal

On 25 April, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva concluded his state visit to Portugal and arrived in Spain’s capital, Madrid, to meet Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez.


Before his departure from Portugal, President Lula addressed the country’s parliament to affirm that “the Brazil we all know is back on the international stage”, a clear signal of his government’s efforts to undo the foreign policy legacy of his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2023), who had undermined Brazil’s cooperation on issues such as environmental protection and the ratification of the trade deal between the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the European Union (EU). Discussions on the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement (FTA) are a top priority during Lula’s Europe trip, although his visit has been overshadowed by his recent comments over the war in Ukraine.

  • The Brazilian government sees Spain as a reliable supporter of the FTA, in contrast with other EU member states, such as the large beef producers Ireland and France, who had expressed concerns about the environmental impact of importing Brazilian beef.
  • Speaking at a business conference in Madrid, Lula stated that it was a “happy coincidence” that Brazil will assume the rotating presidency of Mercosur in the second half of 2023, while Spain will assume the presidency of one of the EU’s legislative institutions, the Council of the European Union.
  • Lula has also continued to walk the tricky diplomatic tightrope of not explicitly naming Russia as the aggressor in Ukraine but still declaring that “we condemn the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity” in his address to the Portuguese parliament. He also maintained his repeated calls for peace talks.
  • To appease Brazil’s European partners allied with Ukraine, the Brazilian government has announced that Lula’s foreign policy adviser Celso Amorim will travel to Ukraine to meet President Volodymr Zelensky, having already met Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 30 March. Brazil also hosted Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on 17 April, but on the following day Amorim had a phone call with US national security advisor Jake Sullivan to assuage US concerns over Brazil’s stance on the war.

Looking Ahead: The Brazilian government has pointed to the summit scheduled for 17-18 July between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) as a good chance to announce “substantive advances” on trade negotiations.

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