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The new law against products imported from deforested areas, promises and still many uncertainties

La loi contre la déforestation importée, des promesses et encore beaucoup d’incertitudes - en-gb -> à traduire Image principale

On 19 April 2023, the European Parliament passed the "European regulation to combat deforestation and forest degradation", focusing on the timber, beef, soy, palm oil, cocoa and coffee sectors. This law, which provides for a ban on the import of all products originating from deforested land, has many shortcomings. 

According to the FAO, between 1990 and 2020, 420 million hectares of forest were cut down, 90% of which was caused by the expansion of agricultural land. The impact of the European market demand for products such as cocoa and coffee generates considerable deforestation and requires much more transparency in these sectors. While this law is good news, it seems insufficient in many respects, to the detriment of cocoa and coffee producers. 

It does not address the main cause of deforestation, namely poverty. The low wages paid to producers keep them in a precarious situation and prevent them from investing in sustainable production and agroforestry practices. "The only way to fight deforestation in a sustainable way is to increase the prices paid to producers, and it is up to the downstream actors in the sector (traders, importers and distributors) to increase these prices," defends Romain Valleur, AVSF programme officer.

Compliance with these new European market requirements will generate additional costs, which have not been estimated. However, producers will have a central role in the traceability of these products and may have to bear these additional costs. This could make them even poorer, as they are already finding it difficult to make a living from their work. "AVSF is working to quantify the additional costs generated for producers and their organisations, but it is up to the major players in the cocoa or coffee sector to pay for these compliance costs, so as not to penalise producers," adds Romain Valleur.

Public authorities, particularly in producer countries, must also support the compliance of producers and their organisations, with possible support from international cooperation, as announced by the European Commission.

Finally, the European Union must also convince the other main countries (outside the EU) to fight against imported deforestation. Otherwise, less demanding countries will continue to import deforestation products, with the risk of redirecting these exports to these markets. This would have no overall effect on deforestation...