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EU Trade Ministers voice strong support for comprehensive EU trade talks with US, Japan and Vietnam, and multilateral talks within WTO

EU News 84/2015

March 26, 2015

On 24–25 March in Riga, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs chaired an informal meeting of the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council on trade issues. The meeting brought together EU Ministers for Trade and the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström. During the event, the ministers discussed the topics currently on the agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the update of the EU trade and investment strategy, and the progress in negotiations on the EU's bilateral trade agreements with third countries, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

When discussing the topics on the WTO agenda, the ministers voiced clear political support for the development of the post-Bali work programme, which would contribute to successful conclusion of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. They also emphasised the EU's active role in seeking solutions and coordinating opinions among the WTO member states. The Ministers and the Commissioner also emphasised that an ambitious and realistic approach should be sustained in the Doha Round of trade talks, focusing on achievable results. Edgars Rinkēvičs indicated that, during its Presidency, Latvia will make every effort towards the completion of the Doha multilateral trade negotiations and pledged the EU's unequivocal support for the WTO Director General in his efforts to seek solutions to the remaining open issues.

The Ministers discussed the enhancement of the EU's trade and investment strategy, and their opinions and proposals will contribute significantly to the work of the EC on drafting the Commission communication on the EU's trade and investment strategy to be prepared in the second half of this year. The Ministers expressed an opinion that, when evaluating bilateral and multilateral trade priorities, the role of trade policy should also be addressed in a broader context, taking into account the relation of trade issues to development, human rights, rights to work, and sustainable development.

The Ministers also emphasised that more information should be offered to the general public on the economic benefits of international trade. Commissioner Malmström informed the Ministers about the progress and prospects in negotiations for the EU-Japan and the EU-Vietnam trade agreements. The Ministers expressed satisfaction with prospects for concluding the talks with Vietnam in the coming months, commended progress achieved in the bilateral talks with Japan and called on the EC to continue working actively with the Japanese side to tackle the remaining issues in the negotiations.

Source and additional information:

Press conference by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC, on the positive impact of trade on the economy 26/03/2015 Reference: P-027898/00-01 Location: Brussels - EC/Berlaymont Rapid: IP/15/4695 (C)EU, 2015 URL