I hear that Brazil slowly but surely burns the Amazonian forests (apparently already payed for by western countries) to make room for cows and supported cultures like soybean. This is obviously bad for the climate. Instead of paying Brazil for not cutting woods (like Iran for not making bombs), why not instead heavily tax these harmful imports? Meat is too cheap already, so pay for it like they pay for tobacco! Instead, in France, they make ecotaxes on transportation, but are the cars comparable bad to losing forest? Why not target the greater evil (also)?

What is wrong with this taxation solution? If nothing, why there are no ONG propositions/movements around ?

  • IIRC under WTO rules they'd have to tax all beef imports equally (least favoured nation principle). And, France and taxing meat? That would lead to an explosion of the gilets jaunes compared to which 1789 is a walk in the park.
    – gerrit
    Aug 19, 2019 at 8:20
  • Of course not France, only I know about the eco-taxe here! But Sweden or Danemark or the entire European Union ?
    – Liviu
    Aug 19, 2019 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


As others have suggested, it is illegal under World Trade Organisation rules to apply such tariffs on just one country without a specific trade treaty.

And if the western countries did impose tariff's across the board on all beef imports, this would penalize the countries that aren't destroying their rain forests to supply beef.

The onus is on Brazil to impose taxes on exports of beef, so that their own companies make better use of their natural resources. The companies would have to raise their beef prices, the western customers might may more for it, but Brazil would get the additional tax money.

In the UK there are heavy duties and taxes on tobacco because it harms the UK population, the tax receipts pay for the UK healthcare, repairing the damage done by tobacco.

If there was an import tax on beef, then the tax money wouldn't got to Brazil to repair environmental damage there, the tax money would stay in the UK and be spent on just regular government spending.

  • 1
    Could they possibly declare sale of beef legal if and only if the full life cycle is documented back to the origins and certified to not involve deforestation?
    – gerrit
    Aug 19, 2019 at 22:22
  • Yeah, that would be a great solution. Its not what was originally asked about taxing beef, and it would drive up the costs of beef production, making it more expensive for consumers and putting a few beef producers out of business, and maybe kill of Brazil's beef industry. Aug 20, 2019 at 7:50
  • I do not agree. 1) Illegal taxes? It seems odd to me, what is Trump doing the last couple of years? 2) I would say that deforestation, these climate change days, is much more dangerous that Iran's atomic bombs. Still, Iran endures heavy sanctions (like no oil exporting allowed). Why not apply the same to more dangerous countries ? 3) Sorry for somehow suggesting to targeting Brazil specifically. I would tax all meat imports that do not practice respectful (for the Planet) agriculture. Meat or soybean or palm oil or something else - the first step is the most important.
    – Liviu
    Aug 21, 2019 at 20:57
  • 4) The tax doesn't need to return to Brazil - why give them money? To blackmail back later? No, the tax should go to local respectful farmers. You are talking about UK - they can raise cows there with some help, don't they? 5) Price will be higher, but people can be educated - it's our future on stake.
    – Liviu
    Aug 21, 2019 at 20:58

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