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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

International trade, european values

We need to keep working hard to conclude the Doha Development Round. It will greatly benefit the world economy, plus it holds a range of systemic advantages that cannot be allowed to slip out of reach. The political reality however is that concluding the Round in 2010 will be very difficult. We will therefore need to be prepared to continue the negotiations into 2011, if that is necessary to adjust the draft package in a way that is acceptable for all WTO members. Alongside the multilateral track, we will also pursue our bilateral agenda, with a particular focus on countries with strong growth potential. Part of the growth that Europe needs to generate over the next decade will come from the emerging economies, as their middle classes import goods and services in which the European Union has a comparative advantage. Consequently, we will centre our attention on Asia and Latin America. In Asia we will carry forward our negotiations with the ASEAN region, in which Singapore is our largest trade partner – and we are already off to a good start there. Negotiations with Singapore have triggered the interest of other ASEAN partners. For example, we aim to launch FTA negotiations with Vietnam in the second half of the year. Apart from this we are negotiating an FTA with India, and it is our ambition to agree on the details still this year. The first country in Asia we have finished FTA negotiations with is Korea. This deal presents not only a very beneficial package for the European economy but is also symbolic of Europe's capacity to liberalise trade even in a downturn, where other trading partners are struggling to maintain trade openness in the current economic climate. A further area of attention is Latin America. During my mandate we finished FTA negotiations with Peru and Colombia, and we agreed on the conditions for an Association Agreement with Central-America. Additionally, the Commission recently took the decision to re-launch the negotiations with Mercosur – an important step, despite the concerns of some EU countries. Mercosur is a highly interesting market for European enterprises: Its combined GDP exceeds 1 300 billion euros. The two largest Mercosur countries, Brazil and Argentina, have been growing at rates of four to six and six to nine percent respectively. Forecasts for this year and the next hover around five percent. So far these countries are relatively closed for EU products, thus reaching a trade deal there holds real potential for EU industries. Besides negotiating Free Trade Agreements, we also need to take forward our relations with key economic players with whom we are not planning FTAs. Our relations with the US, China, Japan or Russia will do much to define five years from now whether the Union has made a real contribution to shaping rather than simply reacting to the challenges of globalisation. This means that we will make proposals for strategic dialogues with key partners, to discuss topics such as market access, regulatory framework, global imbalances, energy and climate change,and access to raw materials, to name only a few. The immediate challenge is to re energise the Transatlantic Economic Council with the United States and the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue with China. These should provide a forum that delivers improved market access and helps prevent potential problems.

Source: EU Reporter

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