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Coronavirus crisis will require the Society and government’s engagement in the regulation, production and world food commerce

A study launched today shows Brazil’s positioning at the international arena and the paths for the society participation. The challenges and trends in the world scenario for food commerce were debated by specialists in an online seminar held by Escolhas and Nexo.

The pandemic caused by the coronavirus is affecting food commerce and food safety all over the world and challenges the international regulatory bodies. Specialists gathered in the seminar “Food Diplomacy. What is Brazil’s appetite in the world scenario? Debated the rules and instances of commerce ruling of agricultural products, Brazil’s score in those spaces – great commodities’ exporter – and the international trends in that new scenario imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

How can society understand the topic Food Diplomacy, contribute and influence the decisions about the world food commerce? During the event, the following study was launched: “Food Diplomacy: what is Brazil’s appetite in the world scenario? The international regulation of the production and food commerce”, conceived by the Escolhas and performed by distinguished researchers of the Center of Studies of Integration and Development (Cindes) with the aim of understanding the complexity of the arena where there are elaborated and implemented rules for the production and commercialization of food products.

Currently, Brazil, as the third greater agricultural world exporter, with 5.7% of the exports of the global market, shall feel the crisis effects, with impacts that shall last for too much time after the most acute phase of this pandemic has been overcome, as highlighted by experts during the debate.

“The world will change. The United Nations Organization for the Food and Agriculture (FAO) calls the attention: after the pandemic (of the coronavirus), the world will be another, new tensions will appear. Tensions besides the offer and tensions besides the demand (of foods)”, alerted the Ambassador Rubens Barbosa, Chairman of the Institute of International Relations and Foreign Commerce (Irice) and of the Brazilian Wheat Industry Association (Abitrigo).

For him, the country must have a proactive attitude. “Brazil needs to get out of this isolationism position, of reaction and needs to have a position about each one of those three fields: economic, commercial and international policy. What we are doing here is an example. The civil society must start discussing. We must raise our voice in order to force a discussion involving Congress, civil society, the Government (Itamaray) to talk without ideology.  If we are not going to have a too much negative consequence for the country, and we are going to lose, once more, the history tram. The national interest must prevail.”

The Insper professor and researcher of the Global Agribusiness, Marcos Jank, emphasizes that the topic Food Diplomacy could not come in better time. “We have the history of what happened. And now one great challenge in the coronavirus pandemic moment, linked to the topic Food Diplomacy”. He states that the change in the matters of human health, animal and vegetal sanity and sustainability is the awareness of disease risk and that a multilateral discussion is now needed involving all international organizations related to food. Nevertheless, the global agribusiness specialist reveals one concern “I am very worried with the risk of occurring a kind of nationalist reborn, a certain food nationalism. If by one side that benefits protective importers, on the other side it prejudices Brazil as a great exporter, which depends on opened frontiers”.

The economist and director of the Cindes, Sandra Polónia Rios, one of the study’s author, emphasized that the study gave a general sightseeing about the international context of formulation and negotiation of rules, and observed the economic policy of the rules’ production and Brazil’s position. She concluded that “the conclusions and recommendations of the study do not change much at the new scenario light. The mobilization work of bringing different actors for the discussion may help in that crisis, search a little more of point of views’ convergence, of the society’s mobilization to deal with this subject”.

For the Escolhas Director, Sergio Leitão, “We learned that Brazil, in that matter, plays seriously and has the production weight to have authority in this international relation. Because of the pandemic crisis, there is an indicative that Brazil must retake the protagonism.” It calls the attention for the necessity of mobilizing all the actors. “There is a deficit of attention of the society in Brazil in relation of the importance of the international regulation of production and foods’ commerce. The work appoints a set of recommendations for the organized civil society and economic actors and the government for its own, think and look how that Brazil’s actuation can be in the matter of the regulation of production and food commerce”.

The debate’s importance with the post-pandemic world, and how Brazil will behave, were the points detached by the Anthropologist and Nexo’s General-Director, Paula Miraglia. “What are the strategies of the society mobilization around the topic Food Diplomacy? It is Important to be able to translate the universe of the Food Diplomacy and of the negotiation arenas, that are going to impact the internal agenda of Brazil. This is the great challenge: to make that the civil society, the public appropriate itself of this debate. How to approach people to this subject? The sensibilization work is fundamental.”

The seminar, transmitted in live by internet, was held by Escolhas in partnership with Nexo Journal.

The study

The work idealized by Escolhas and performed by Cindes’ researchers, analyzed the instances, rules, topics in the functioning of the foods’ international commerce, shows the trends and the postures adopted by Brazil and the influence of the private actors of the Brazilian agricultural sector in that positioning.

In the study, the researches appoint that, in the role of food’ supplier for the world, Brazil suffers with international pressure in order that the agro-export sector adopts clearer stances in relation to issues such as climate change and human health, adapting its production practices to internationally established standards.

And it brings some recommendations as the necessity to make the Brazilian agro-export sector mapping and the understanding of the provisions about commerce and sustainable development in the Mercosur and European Union Agreement.

Executive Summary – “Food Diplomacy: what is Brazil’s appetite in the world scenario? The international regulation of production and food commerce