1. Trade agreements support exports, resilience and diversification
The report shows that the value of EU trade through agreements with international partners will exceed 2 trillion euros for the first time in 2022. These agreements have helped sustain trade, investment and economic growth in a business environment marked by increasing geopolitical challenges. This is done by creating new export opportunities for EU producers and farmers, making exports more resilient to external shocks, ensuring access to key inputs and reducing dependence on any one country.
2. Remove trade barriers
A list of trade barriers is included in the appendix of the report. In 2022, the Commission, together with Member States and businesses, resolved 31 barriers in 19 partner countries. Overcoming barriers over the past five years has helped boost EU exports by €7 billion in key sectors such as agri-food, pharmaceuticals and healthcare by 2022 alone.
3. Progress in dispute resolution
Dispute settlement continued at the World Trade Organization. The EU has brought four new disputes, including the first with the United Kingdom over a discriminatory green energy subsidy scheme, that have been settled. The EU has been vindicated in its dispute with Turkey over discriminatory pharmaceutical practices, and is now monitoring Turkey’s steps to ensure compliance.
4. Commitment to sustainable development
Trade agreements have also ensured greater protection of environmental and labor rights. Under agreements that include a chapter on trade and sustainable development, Japan and South Korea have ratified key international labor organization conventions. Close cooperation with Peru and Colombia prompted those countries to revise their labor laws.
VBO – FEB calls on federal and all confederation institutions to fully support, promote and implement EU trade policy – and trade agreements in particular. An ambitious and modern EU trade policy, both offensive and defensive, is important in the current geopolitical times – especially with regard to critical raw materials – and essential for the Belgian open economy. The report shows that our country can and should believe again in the positive effects of EU trade agreements. For example, EU agreements already negotiated with Chile, Mexico and New Zealand must be ratified. FEB hopes to quickly restart the already broken negotiations with Australia and fully supports the political effort to finalize the agreement with Mercosur by the end of 2023.
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