Brazil’s Minister of Environment, Marina Silva, is participating in the opening of an arbitration panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO), in Geneva, Switzerland.
The panel was requested by the European Community (EC) to analyze the Brazilian ban on used tire imports in the context of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Mechanism.
This is the first meeting on this topic and will continue until Friday, July 7. The Brazilian delegation that will defend the country’s position in Geneva is composed of representatives of the presidential Advisory Office (Casa Civil) and the ministries of Foreign Relations; Health; Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade; and Environment.
What do you do with 80 million used tires? The European Union wants Brazil to accept them. After all, Brazil, as one of the biggest developing countries, could be a prime market for Europe’s used tires. It has a large population and a big fleet of vehicles. And it prohibits the importation of used tires.
So, the EU has taken the issue to the World Trade Organization, where Brazil frequently complains about EU barriers against Brazilian farm produce imports. Could there be trade-off here? Used tires for market access?
There are two sides to everything. Adriana Ramos. from the NGO, Socio-Environmental Institute (Instituto Sócio Ambiental) (ISA), finds the idea disgusting.
"This is the worst form of colonialism. European countries trying to get us, force us, to accept products they don’t need anymore."
But deputy Ivo José (Workers Party, Minas Gerais state) says the idea is not to turn Brazil into a junkyard. He points out that some "solid residues" (used tires fall into this import category) are nothing less than "strategic raw material" for Brazil (the deputy’s category for used tires).
He points out that they can often be used to make asphalt and other things. And as they are cheaper than new tires, they can be used by low-income drivers on their cheap cars.
Ms Ramos, at ISA, counterattacks deputy José’s arguments by saying that the problem of used tires is more complex. After they are used (a second time) they are thrown away and wind up becoming excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes that transmit dengue and yellow fever and other bad things.
Ramos cites a study by the Ministry of Health which did, in fact, find that discarded tires are a principal focus of the very bad Aedes Aegypti mosquito.