On October 29th, the Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI), in partnership with Insper’s Global Agribusiness Center (Insper Agro Global), organized the event “Brazil-China post-Covid-19: food security, food safety and sustainability”, supported by the Embassy of China in Brazil. It is the third and last event in a series of webinars, dealing with Brazil-China cooperation in the post-Covid-19 era. Gathering renowned experts from academia, business representatives, and governmental authorities, the event addressed shared challenges and perspectives from China and Brazil within the areas of food security, food safety, and sustainability, as well as opportunities for bilateral cooperation, trade, and investment.
As both countries respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral trade has been reinforced as an essential component of food security strategies and economic recovery efforts. From the Brazilian perspective, the agricultural sector is expected to be a pillar of economic recovery in the post-Covid-19 era. Given China’s continuous demand for agricultural products, Brazil’s agri-food exports have not only persisted throughout the pandemic but also increased in comparison to the levels of 2019 – highlighting the mutual dependence between both economies.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also reinforced concerns over food safety, requiring clear and transparent communication between Chinese and Brazilian authorities in order to sustain steady trade flows. The trust-building gains achieved during the pandemic might also have lasting effects for market-opening efforts, facilitating the negotiation of sanitary and phytosanitary protocols and underpinning efforts to diversify Brazilian exports to China, by opening markets for products such as corn, fruits, and vegetables. However, market opening negotiations must be followed by successful marketing strategies by private companies, considering Chinese consumers’ changing consumption patterns and demands, particularly regarding sustainability.
After decades of agricultural modernization focused on securing productivity gains, sustainability has come to the forefront of Chinese food security strategies. As the government has pledged to peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, major players in the agri-food sector have followed with their own commitments to promote sustainable practices – such as COFCO’s goal of achieving 100% traceability for all soybeans imported from Brazil by 2023.
With persisting challenges in both countries within areas such as soil degradation, water quality, air pollution, and illegal deforestation, there is room for bilateral agricultural cooperation and investment. The mutual dependence between Brazil and China in the agri-food sector seals a long-term strategic partnership in food security, food safety, and sustainability, facing global food and environmental challenges.
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