News / 9 October 2013

Letter to Ploumen about her trade mission to Brazil

Minister Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is visiting Brazil on a trade mission for the second time this year. On the government website she says: ‘for Dutch companies there are a lot of trade opportunities in Brazil. Foreign trade also creates domestic jobs.’ The Netherlands is one of the top 5 export partners of Brazil. But who profits from this solid trade relation in Brazil? To make the minister and her travel companions aware of this question, Both ENDS sent her a letter.


Not only self-interest

Although the letter specifically stresses the negative impacts and possible improvements of soy production in Brazil, according to Both ENDS Director Danielle Hirsch the general message is much broader. Every entrepreneur should always consider how a trade or investment relationship affects  people and nature in the area where he or she will be undertaking business. “If you look at soy, The Netherlands is one of the biggest importers of soy from Brazil and its production creates a lot of problems such as poverty, exploitation, deforestation and pollution. This can be done differently: quite a lot is already being done to make soy production more sustainable. It is important that businesses are made aware of these initiatives but more importantly that they are encouraged to participate  and informed on how to do so.”  


Responsible soy?

An example of such an initiative is the group of Dutch animal feed and food Businesses that have united  in the ‘Foundation Chain Transition Responsible Soy’. The members have agreed that they will only buy responsible soy for animal feed and food industries. However, according to Hirsch this ambition is only achievable if all stakeholders  in the production and marketing chain cooperate. "Unfortunately, this is not yet the case. This is a slow process and should be encouraged by our government where possible. For instance, the government could include responsible (RTRS)-soy in its own purchase policies."


An opportunity for Ploumen

During her trip in Brazil Minister Ploumen participates in a seminar on socially responsible entrepreneurship. According to Hirsch, Ploumen should seize this opportunity. "She can draw attention to the currently clearly unsustainable soy production and to what Dutch entrepreneurs can do to improve this. She will also meet the Brazilian Minister of Development and Industry, which gives her the opportunity to point to the responsibility of the Brazilian government: why do many new soy plantations not measure up to the Brazilian law?"


The Dutch Soy Coalition

Both ENDS runs the secretariat for the Dutch Soy Coalition. This coalition of seven Dutch civil society organizations puts  global issues around soy production on the agenda of the government, industry and consumers. The coalition mainly focuses on what Dutch businesses and consumers can do, but works together with many civil society organizations in soy producing countries. Danielle Hirsch thinks there is still a long way to go before the transition to responsible soy in the Netherlands is complete. “However,” she concludes,  "with actions like this letter to Minister Ploumen we hope to set the right people to thinking.  Many of these targeted actions together can make a big change."


The Dutch Soy Coalition

Soy from the Netherlands

The letter in Dutch

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