Trade – a key driver of growth
On 31 May 2012, EU trade ministers discussed the contribution made by trade policy to economic growth and the creation of jobs in Europe. The Council debate was part of preparations for the European Council meeting on 28 and 29 June, expected to focus on ways to boost the European economy.
“Trade policy plays a very significant role and is currently the main driver for growth in Europe,” said Danish Minister for Trade and Investment Pia Olsen Dyhr, who chaired the Council meeting. “By 2015, 90% of world economic growth is expected to take place outside Europe,” she said. “We need to tap into this effectively.”
In parallel with WTO negotiations, the EU is pursuing the opening-up of trade with a substantial number of its trading partners.
An example of a recent deal which has already delivered benefits is the comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, which entered into force in 2011. It contributed significantly to an increase of 16% in EU exports to South Korea the same year.
FTA talks with Canada are approaching the final phases. Negotiations are ongoing with India, Singapore, Malaysia, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Mercosur.
At the meeting on 31 May, the Council authorised the Commission to start negotiations with Vietnam.
The “scoping exercise” with Japan has now been finalised, and the Commission announced its intention to present to the Council in the coming weeks a proposal for a mandate to start the actual negotiations.
At the meeting the Council also approved the Council Decision on the signing and provisional application of a multipartite FTA with Colombia and Peru.
According to Commission estimates, the cumulative impact of all on-going and potential negotiations could in the medium term provide an increase of 1.4 percentage points of GDP – 175 billion euros – to the EU economy, generating 2.2 million jobs.
For more information: Council of the European Union