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FTA Urges European Commission to Adapt Trade Agenda

The Foreign Trade Association (FTA) published its contribution to the European Commission’s trade and investment strategy Tuesday, stating that ambitious trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and European Union level, a modernized rule book and policies facilitating trade should be implemented during the new political term.

Reviewing the trade and investment strategy has been a priority for FTA since the new European Commission took office.

The update was published to ensure the interests of the association’s more than 1,500 retailers, importers and brand companies are represented.

“We urge the Commission to respond to retailers’ expectations by shaping a trade agenda that truly enables companies to face 21st century challenges and maximize the opportunities to enhance economic growth and social wellbeing,” said Christian Ewert, FTA director general.

It said EU trade policies have not kept up with the rapid development of commerce worldwide and the increased complexity of global supply chains. Adding that this is preventing the growth of businesses and the competitiveness of the EU.

The FTA’s Road Map for EU Trade Policy 2014-2019, which was published in June 2014, highlighted today’s global value chains demand a flexible and modern trade policy that pursues ambitious goals.

The statement noted the highest level of trade policy agreement can only be achieved through the WTO and the EU should continue to support all ongoing efforts to successfully complete the Doha Round, which aims to achieve major reform of the international trading system.

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“Discussions are at a critical stage and this is an urgent call for the EU to show leadership in the negotiations,” said Ewert. “Reaching a compromise is paramount at this point, even if this means achieving less ambitious goals, since this will clear the path to move beyond Doha to a new round with renewed impetus and an updated agenda.”

The FTA stressed how important it is that the EU continues to promote the negotiation of ongoing and future EU bilateral and regional trade talks, with specific emphasis on Asia.

“Being the main sourcing region for European retailers and the one with the greatest expansion and investment, the region is pivotal for an ambitious trade agenda. Long awaited agreements with countries such as Vietnam should be swiftly concluded to avoid the same unnecessary delays that are keeping negotiations such as EU-India talks deadlocked since almost two years”.

The statement also urged the EU to provide a level playing field for all actors and fight the adoption of protectionist policies, using Turkey as an example of this. Punitive duties were recently imposed by the country on goods exported to the EU, which the FTA says clearly violate obligations spelled out within the Union Customs Code.

“Such protectionist policies impact very negatively on European retailers and clearly show that we need in every trade arrangement with third countries a strong dispute settlement mechanism – beyond the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) – that protects companies and provides an effective instrument to assert their rights,” Ewert added.