The European Commission published a communication “Trade for all. Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy”, which presented the ongoing EU activities regarding trade globally. The communication is just a political document without any binding legal value. The main objectives of the European Commission regarding a responsible trade and investment policy included: gaining international markets, facilitating digital trade, promoting the EU’s best practices and standards internationally, eliminating non-tariff barriers and corruption. Additionally, the EU Commission is currently negotiating trade agreements with non-EU countries in order to have a more transparent trade policy based on the respect the environment, human rights and consumers protection.
The communication on trade revealed that import and export in Europe are currently expanding for the non-EU countries, and gaining international markets mainly in the US and Asian countries. According to the communication, “90% of global economic growth in the next 10 to 15 years is expected to be generated outside Europe”. Due to increase in trade, it is substantial to have more transparent trade regulations, which enables European enterprises to respond to new market opportunities and gaining international competitiveness. In order to enable European goods and services to gain international market shares, the EU Commission is currently negotiating a trade agreements, such as TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) or EPAs (Economic Partnership Agreements). The priority is not only to raise consumers’ awareness about the quality of products and offer them a wide range of goods globally, but also to uphold the human rights (unfortunately, the animal welfare issues have not been raised in that communication).
When it comes to promoting fair and ethical trade schemes, the EU Commission will be focused on controlling both supply and demand sides. TTIP is currently one of the most important ongoing negotiations between the EU and the US, which is also meticulously scrutinized by Europeans. The EU Commission has already published the TTIP and TiSA negotiating directives in order to get public trust. It has also been decided to have a dedicated web platform, where documents concerning TTIP will be published, in order to keep the general public abreast on trade policy due to political and public concerns about the secrecy of TTIP negotiations. What is more, the EU Commission underlined that “Transparency should apply at all stages of the negotiating cycle from the setting of objectives to the negotiations themselves and during the post-negotiating phase…Transparency should be further increased in the area of trade defence as well. While the EU already goes beyond WTO standards for openness, more can be done”. It is also important to underline that the EU has been already participating in 11 negotiating rounds regarding TTIP agreement since July 2013, as the US is treated as a key political player. The EU will aim at having closer ties with them in order to export the EU goods to the US, which is the biggest possible market for European products. According to the communication, “TTIP is the most ambitious and strategic trade negotiation that the EU has ever undertaken”. However, CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) agreement between the EU and Canada is another important EU issue, and the EU Commission will submit the CETA for both the EU Parliament and EU Council approval in 2016.
It is also important to pinpoint that there are more ongoing EU negotiations with the non-EU countries, which are in the spotlight now. For instance, there is a sudden and unexpected transformation in Africa. According to communication, “Africa has been the fastest growing continent over the past decade. However, the key challenge is to make growth sustainable”. This means that the EU should pay close attention to their rapid economic growth and support them in defeating the high market entry barriers. The EU Commission will monitor the economic transformation and industrialization in Africa in order to “fostering regional integration and creating hubs that would benefit a whole region”, as it was mentioned in a communication.
Additionally, a close partnership with Turkey holds a prominent position among the DG trade priorities, which mainly put an emphasis on fostering customs union. As the communication stated, “a modernised customs union should release the untapped economic potential of areas like services, agriculture and government procurement”.
The next EU priority focuses on getting the market integration with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, which should be gradually implemented. At the same time, there is still a lack of mutual cooperation between the EU and Russia, as Russia clearly expressed its unwillingness in having closer economic ties with the EU.
Asian-Pacific region is also on the big importance for the EU due to FTA negotiation with Japan as well as investment negotiations with China, Myanmar, Hong Kong and Taiwan which are currently running. Ideally, the EU will consolidate these agreements within a few years. In addition, the successful negotiations with both Vietnam and Singapore have been treated as a new benchmark for getting other partners, like Indonesia or the Philippines. Furthermore, strengthening economic ties with both Australia and New Zealand should become the EU priority due to their political power of the Asian-Pacific region.
The EU cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean is no less important to mention, as trade is currently boosting in Central America. Furthermore, FTA negotiations with Colombia, Peru and Ecuador are still pending. The communication revealed that “preferential trade agreements have been concluded with 26 out of the 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries”.
Summing up, the newest communication on trade issued by the EU Commission is clearly presented that having closer economic ties with non-EU countries should be set as the EU priority for the upcoming years with the main aim at creating a transparent trade policy with possible EU partners around the world. To achieve this goal a mutual understanding of having the common best practices and coherent trade policy between the all EU and non-EU states are required, as the EU Commission underlined that “trade is a tool to benefit people”.
Read the whole communication “Trade for all. Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy” here: