EU should expand its network of free trade agreements - Foreign Ministry

  • 2021-03-02
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - On March 2, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica, took part in an informal video conference of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council (Trade). The meeting focused on the EU’s new trade strategy and tasks for the coming years.

The Parliamentary Secretary underlined that it was essential for the EU to continue pursuing an open and fair trade policy and to be able to resist demonstrable protectionism. The EU should further expand and deepen its network of free trade agreements, Kalnina-Lukasevica underlined, adding that in order to eliminate unfair competition, effective and strong tools are needed to protect the EU’s economic interests when it is necessary.

EU trade accounts for almost a half – 43 percent – of the bloc’s gross domestic product. Over the past five years, due to free trade agreements, a number of trade barriers have been removed in partner countries. As a result, it has been possible in 2019 to increase EU exports by EUR 8 million.

“We expect that the new trade policy activities will support the digital transition and sustainability goals. The EU trade policy should foster economic growth and the welfare of citizens, and enable the creation of jobs. Let’s not forget that trade negotiations also make it possible to strengthen and spread our core values, especially in the areas of human rights and environmental sustainability. The EU’s trade policy must serve both values-based and economy-driven causes,” the Parliamentary Secretary said.

The Parliamentary Secretary also underlined the need for a strong and reinvigorated multilateral trading system; therefore, formulation of a reform plan for the World Trade Organization is an undeniable priority. To deal with challenges to international trade, the EU should forge strong alliances with like-minded partners, especially with the U.S.

The new strategy is based on the EU’s commitment to facilitating economic recovery through support for green and digital transformation, reasserting the importance of multilateralism and reforming global trade rules.

Discussions at the meeting of ministers responsible for trade are based on the European Commission’s recent Communication on the Trade Policy Review published this past February 18, in which the Commission identifies key challenges in the trade sector, maps out the main lines of action and sets the EU’s objectives in its trade policy for the medium term, with a view to 2030. The new strategy aims to establish a new consensus for trade policy based on openness, sustainability and assertiveness. The link to the European Commission strategy.