China and Brazil to cooperate in stopping illegal trade fueling deforestation

Brazil’s president, Lula da Silva, met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping in China and announced new collaborations to control illegal deforestation.

Lula da Silva and Xi Jinping meeting in China to cooperate on climate change.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva inspects an honor guard with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony held outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 14, 2023. (Photo: Ken Ishii/Pool via REUTERS)


China and Brazil announced this Friday a new collaborative effort to eliminate deforestation and control illegal trade causing forest loss.

In a joint statement, the countries said they “intend to engage collaboratively in support of eliminating global illegal logging and deforestation through effectively enforcing their respective laws on banning illegal imports and exports”.

Brazilian President Lula da Silva met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a visit to China, in a bid to strengthen ties. China is Brazil’s largest trading partner and a major importer of commodities such as soy and crude petroleum.

Both countries added they will cooperate with satellite information, “which will enable enhanced monitoring”. China and Brazil share the CBERS satellite program, which made its first launch back in 2001.

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Cyntia Feitosa, international relations advisor at the Brazilian think tank Instituto Clima e Sociedade, said the joint statement was “a very good signal”, but warned there’s still questions about how it would be put into practice.

“It would be very good to see some joint traceability strategy, for example, to avoid the export of any product that has deforestation in its supply chain,” Feitosa said.

A 2019 report by the Brazilian NGO Amazon Watch showed that companies charged with environmental crimes in the Amazon were still able to export their products to the international market, in particular to Brazil’s three main trading partners — China, the EU and the US.

Climate leadership

With the arrival of Lula da Silva to Brazil’s presidency, the country resumed its efforts to influence global climate action. Da Silva also retook a closer relation with China, which at times was tense under the last government of Jair Bolsonaro.

Both countries now agreed to establish a Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change and support Brazil’s bid for Cop30. Back in January, Da Silva expressed his desire to host the UN climate talks in Belem, the second-biggest city in the Amazon region.

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“China welcomes the Brazilian candidacy to host COP30, as the 2025 summit will be key to the very future of the global response to climate change,” the statement said.

Feitosa welcomed the countries’ collaboration with climate action at the center. “I hope this is reflected in a collaborative posture in the negotiations and the search for effective solutions at a crucial moment for the next steps in the implementation of the Paris Agreement,” she said.

Li Shuo, policy advisor for Greenpeace East Asia, said Brazil and China hold a big sway among develpoping countries, putting them in a unique position to lead initiatives coming from the Global South.

“A Brazil that is back to international scene and a China that seeks to enhance developing country solidarity should not just imply a fortress position, but rather a stance that champions global south concerns while at the same time advances their own action,” Shuo said.

“What we need is a more forward looking position from them that says developed countries need to act and so do we. Let’s hope the joint statement is a starting point to get us there,” he added.

This story was updated to include comments from Li Shuo.

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