Environmental Obligations by Brazil and the US as Building Blocks to a Bilateral Agenda
Pilot Clinic: University of São Paulo, Spring 2021
Beneficiary: American Chamber of Commerce for Brazil
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The environment is shaping up to be an inescapable driver of the Brazil-US bilateral relations in the coming years. The current US administration has placed the issue at the center of its domestic and foreign policies. Brazil, for its part, holds the greatest biological diversity in the world and is home to the largest part of the Amazon Forest. Accordingly, Brazil draws the world’s attention to its policies and is expected to be part of any relevant global discussion on environmental issues. In this context, can international environmental commitments already undertaken by the United States and Brazil constitute building blocks to the bilateral agenda?
To answer this question, this report compares selected environmental commitments undertaken by Brazil and the US and assesses the level of convergence between them. The Report focuses on obligations under Multilateral Environmental Agreements (“MEAs”) containing trade provisions and on the text of the environmental chapters of two specific Free Trade Agreements (“FTAs”): the European Union-Mercosur (“EU-Mercosur”) FTA and the United States-Mexico-Canada FTA (“USMCA”). Based on the analysis of existing commitments under MEAs and the FTAs analyzed, the report suggests possible topics for future discussions.
Brazil and the US have adhered to various MEAs. Although there are differences in terms of participation in MEAs, there is also a certain degree of convergence in the two countries’ commitments. This could be used as a focal point for future developments in the bilateral relationship.
The commitments undertaken in the environmental chapters of the EU-Mercosur FTA (by Brazil) and the USMCA (by the US) converge further with regard to the integration of sustainable development and environmental protection. Both FTAs require their respective parties to implement the MEAs in which these parties participate. There are certain similarities with respect to the institutions designed to achieve compliance with commitments and foster transparency. There are converging commitments related to climate change and the conservation and protection of biodiversity. Both FTAs generally acknowledge the importance of responsible business practices. Converging commitments by Brazil and the US in the EU-Mercosur and USCMA could also be used as a focal point for the development of the bilateral relationship.
Prospects for future cooperation on environmental matters in the context of initiatives to foster Brazil-US trade relations are considered positive, provided that the current US Administration’s stated policy on environmental protection is matched by Brazil’s increasing and constructive engagement in international environmental discussions.
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