Sun. Jan 29th, 2023

Brussels, 25 November 2022

“Check against delivery”

Thank you very much and thank you, Minister Sikela, for your excellent chairmanship and for the strong work of Czech Presidency. Even though if I know your work on the trade track may be over, you continue to work very intensively on energy track.

Our discussions today focussed on three core issues for EU trade policy: World Trade Organisation reform, EU-US trade relations and our ongoing trade support to Ukraine.

The EU is the strongest global champion of a functioning multilateral rulebook. We continue to pursue meaningful reform across three core functions of the WTO, namely dispute settlement, negotiation, and deliberation.

The MC12 Ministerial in June defied expectations by delivering positive, and in some cases, unprecedented results.

We are committed to putting a workable reform plan in place for the next ministerial. And in finding in a lasting fix for a functioning dispute settlement system. Our goal is to have this in place by 2024.

Of course, support from like-minded partners – especially the US – will be critical to achieve these objectives.

Another priority is to reinforce the sustainability and climate agenda by MC13.

We will mark an important milestone in January, when we launch a Trade Ministers Coalition for Climate, together with other WTO Members.

Finally, Ministers today completed the last step of our approval procedure of the Joint Statement Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation.

This agreement represents a milestone for the WTO.

It will help reduce costs of global services trade by more than USD 150 billion every year thanks to simplified regulations and procedures.

Let me turn next to the EU-US trade relationship. Today we especially focused on the upcoming Trade and Technology Council on the 5th of December.

The working groups are working hard to deliver a package of attractive results.

Our EU priorities for the TTC include a stronger focus on trade facilitating initiatives. And we want to see a greater focus on climate change. We plan to announce a “Transatlantic Initiative on Sustainable Trade”.

We want to ramp up cooperation in ways that boost trade and accelerate the green transition in a mutually beneficial way. For example, for the meeting in Maryland we have agreed to work on standards for Megawatt Charging Systems.

We of course also discussed the US Inflation Reduction Act.

Many of the green subsidies provided for in the Act discriminate against EU automotive, renewables, battery and energy-intensive industries. These are serious concerns for the EU, which I, and many of colleagues, have raised repeatedly with our US interlocutors.

These issues are now being discussed in a joint high-level task force.

These are no easy discussions but they must produce concrete solutions.

What we are asking for is fairness.

We want and expect European companies and exports to be treated in the same way in the US as American companies and exports are treated in Europe.

In the current geopolitical context, and keeping in mind our shared green targets, we should be building alliances in these important sectors – be that batteries, renewable energy, or recycling.

The last thing we should be doing is creating unnecessary distractions or potential new disputes.

I also would like to warn against the danger of conflating the Inflation Reduction Act with our broader relationship with the United States.

These are separate tracks.

The US has been a true ally to the EU in shoring up support to Ukraine, among many other issues.

I was in Kiev last Friday. The situation is dramatic, with continuous Russian attacks on vital infrastructure. People are being deprived of water, heat and electricity.

We need deepen and sharpen transatlantic unity in the face of these horrific attacks. And we need the US to maintain its support so that Ukraine can win this war.

Russia’s strategy is to use the cold of winter to bring the Ukrainian people to their knees.

And to sow division in Europe.

This must not happen.

This is why we need to deepen and sharpen transatlantic unity. And we need the US to maintain its support to Ukraine.

Trade Relationship with Ukraine was another item on the agenda.

We are discussing how trade can help Ukraine’s economy at this critical time.

We are working swiftly to integrate Ukraine into the EU’s roaming area.

This would bring immediate benefits to Ukrainian citizens.

We are also accelerating work on an agreement to allow Ukraine and the EU to export our industrial products freely to each other’s markets.

We continue to step up our work beyond our existing trade agreement, the DCFTA.

The Solidarity Lanes, for example, are a real achievement. Since May, they have allowed Ukraine to export more than 33 Mt of goods and to import more than 11 Mt of goods it needs.

We suspended all duties and trade defence measures on Ukraine earlier this year. This has resulted in a significant increase in Ukrainian exports to the EU.

And we intend to propose an extension of this arrangement in early 2023.

Finally, we are working on an ambitious review of the Priority Action Plan for 2023/2024, to accelerate the full implementation of the DCFTA.

In conclusion, we are deploying many trade related-support measures to Ukraine, and have more in the pipeline. A revised Priority Action Plan will be proposed in due time.

Source – EU Commission

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