Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023

Brussels, 25 May 2023

Trade relations with the United States 

The Foreign Affairs Council, in its Trade configuration, took stock of the state of play on the key issues in EU-US trade relations and prospects for our continued engagement with the US.

Ministers focused on the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), ahead of its fourth meeting next week in Sweden (Luleå, 30-31 May). They recalled that this platform is of key importance in the current geostrategic context and expected further concrete and balanced outcomes in the short term and beyond.

The TTC constitutes one of the most important events during the Swedish EU presidency and is an important platform for deepening the cooperation with the US.

Johan Forssell, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade

Continuing engagement to find pragmatic solutions to EU concerns over the discriminatory elements of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), including reaching a targeted Critical Minerals Agreement and increasing transparency and cooperation on respective green tech incentives’ programmes was also one of the requests of the Ministers.

Continuing the work on a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium was also seen as a priority. Any agreed solution must put a definite end to the US “Section 232″ tariffs and thus normalise bilateral trade in steel and aluminium, respect the relevant EU legislation and be compatible with the WTO rules.

Trade relations with China

Ministers held a discussion on EU-China trade relations.  The strategic debate focused on existing and potential critical trade dependencies with China and the exploration of instruments which would be needed to handle those risks. Ministers also discussed how trade and investment relations with China could be rebalanced through engagement and how to support efforts at the EU level in this regard.

The Commission explained that the economic de-risking strategy is to be developed across 4 areas:

  • making the EU’s economy and industry more competitive and resilient
  • better using the EU’s existing toolbox of trade instruments
  • China’s changing policies may require developing new defensive tool for some critical sectors
  • alignment with partners

The Commission informed about the preparations for the upcoming EU-China High-Level Dialogue for Economy and Trade, expected to take place before the end of the year. 

World Trade Organization (WTO): preparation for the 13th Ministerial Conference 

Ministers received information from the Commission about the latest updates around the preparation of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13).

The MC13 package is expected to include the following:

  • restoring the Dispute Settlement Mechanism/Appellate Body
  • the extension of the e-commerce moratorium and the e-commerce work programme
  • the WTO reform
  • the agreement and the negotiations on fisheries subsidies
  • agriculture with a special focus on food security
  • development, special and differential treatment, and Least Developed Countries Graduation and LDC issues.
  • plurilateral negotiations on Investment Facilitation and e-commerce,
  • environment/sustainable development and the plurilateral negotiations on the matter
  • some pending files from the previous Ministerial Conference
Lunch: Ongoing bilateral trade negotiations

Ministers were briefed by the Commission on the state of play of ongoing bilateral trade negotiations. The Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis addressed the trade negotiations with Australia and indicated that the aim is to reach an agreement as soon as possible, hopefully by mid July, provided that the substance is right. He also referred to negotiations with IndiaIndonesia and Kenya (the latter being in the final stretch) and mentioned the negotiations with Eastern and Southern Africa.

The Commission also debriefed Ministers about the latest developments in EU-Mercosur negotiations on an “additional legal instrument” focusing on issues related to sustainability and climate change.

Other decisions

The Council approved today, as point without debate, the renewal of temporary trade liberalisation and other trade concessions to Ukraine.

The Council approved today, as point without debate, a WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies to boost environmental sustainability.

The Council also adopted without discussion the items on the lists of legislative and non-legislative A items.

Source – EU Council

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