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Informal meeting of trade ministers – Group photo
Informal meeting of trade ministers – Group photo
BKA/Michael Gruber

EU trade ministers discuss challenges, opportunities and public perception of EU trade policy

Published 05 Oct 12:22

Informal meeting of trade ministers takes place in Innsbruck under the motto “Trade. Jobs. Future.”.

On Friday 5 October 2018, the trade ministers of the 28 EU member states attended an informal meeting in Innsbruck at which they talked about the challenges, opportunities and public perception of EU trade policy. Held under the motto “Trade. Jobs. Future.”, the meeting’s main programme points were an exchange of views on the modernisation of the World Trade Organization and the question of how to give a positive agenda in EU‑US trade relations a forward push.

“In future, it will more than ever be our duty to convey to the public that the answer to globalisation is not protectionist measures, but that open markets alone can further the strengthening of competitiveness and innovation”, said Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Margarete Schramböck, who chaired the meeting. “EU trade agreements are an opportunity to shape globalisation based on European values. And such trade deals, for instance the recent EU‑Canada and EU‑Japan agreements, have succeeded in doing so. We must aim to support our economic operators in maximising the benefits of these agreements”, said Schramböck.

Trade as a driving force for prosperity

Based on the work of the preceding presidencies of the Council of the EU, Estonia and Bulgaria, the Austrian Presidency supports the EU strategy to not only further develop the global trade system by way of concrete new rules that take into account the current developments taking place in our globalised world but also to combat unfair trade practices. This can be achieved by modernising the World Trade Organization (WTO) and by the EU concluding trade agreements with like‑minded partners that have similar values. In this vein, negotiations on free trade agreements were recently started with Australia and New Zealand. In addition, the EU and the US agreed at the end of July to start talks on abolishing tariffs on industrial goods, non‑tariff trade barriers and subsidies as well as establishing a dialogue on standards. Austria supports this initiative, especially as the US is Austria’s second most important export destination.

Concrete measures during the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU

The discussion and results of the informal meeting of trade ministers will serve as a basis for the preparations of the formal meeting of Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) – Trade on 9 November 2018. An important milestone will be the signature of the EU‑Singapore free trade agreement and the investment protection agreement, which is planned to take place during the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit on 18 and 19 October 2018 in Brussels.
The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is currently being dealt with in the European Parliament. Austria hopes that the partnership can still be ratified before the end of 2018 and that it can enter into force as early as possible.  

More information about this event can be found on the event page.  

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