Willagri- Tropical industries challenged to fight “imported deforestation”
Stimulated by government policies geared towards growth at any cost, agricultural practices, the expansion of grazing areas and industrial plantations of perennial trees and crops, are fueling deforestation and the huge fires consuming the Amazon and other forested regions around the world. And though the international trade in agricultural products bears some of the blame for this state of affairs, little has been done in the way of pricing policies, to foster imports of products that have not contributed to deforestation.
This article focuses on France’s National Strategy Against Imported Deforestation (SNDI) which it adopted in 2018. In order to successfully implement the strategy, the article advocates for the European Union to draw distinctions between customs duties on imports of agricultural, forest and livestock products. It further recommends raising duties on products that may be derived from deforestation in favor of “zero deforestation” certified products and giving small-scale farmers the financial support they need to transition towards sustainable practices.
Differentiation of customs duties may seem to be at odds with WTO rules, but exceptions have been included and may be applied where such measures are deemed acceptable. This will also be an opportunity for Europe’s diplomatic community to submit a proposed ecological interpretation of “production processes and methods” to the WTO to distinguish sustainable products from those that harm the environment because of their production processes.