The conclusion of trade agreements with strategic partners for the EU, including Japan, Canada, Singapore and Southern Mediterranean countries, as well as the state of play of the proposed Regulations “Omnibus I” and “Omnibus II”, will be among the important issues to be discussed at the Foreign Affairs Council (Trade), which will be held in Brussels on November 29.
The decisions made at the meeting, which will be chaired by the Cypriot Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Mr. Neoklis Sylikiotis, are crucial for boosting growth in the EU, given the European Commission’s estimates that the total impact on the EU economy of all ongoing and potential bilateral trade negotiations, could be an increase of 1.4% of the EU’s overall GDP and the creation of 1.6 to 4.6 million new jobs.
Agreements with Japan and Canada to boost EU economy
The launching of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Japan appears to be close. A potential agreement could be of enormous trade and economic importance, as it is projected to increase the EU’s GDP by around €43 billion. The Council will be called upon to adopt the negotiating mandate.
The negotiations between the EU and Canada for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement were launched in 2009 and are expected to lead to one of the world’s largest free trade agreements and to increase the EU’s annual income by €11.6 billion. The Council is expected to lay the groundwork for a swift conclusion of the negotiations.
Free trade agreements with Singapore and Southern Mediterranean countries
The Council will also discuss the progress made in the negotiations, which began in March 2010, for a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Singapore, with the aim to achieve their finalization within 2012. Apart from the trade benefits, the conclusion of the negotiations would send a strong signal of the EU's engagement in concluding trade agreements with the rest of the Southeast Asian countries.
In December 2011, the Council authorised the European Commission to launch bilateral negotiations with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia for Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, upon successful completion of the respective scoping exercises. The Commission has recently recommended the launch of negotiations with Morocco, a proposal supported by the Trade Policy Committee in its last meeting.
In addition to the launch of negotiations with Morocco, the Council will also review the progress achieved with the other three countries.
Omnibus I and II
The Council will take stock of the state of play on the so-called trade "Omnibus" proposals (Omnibus I and II legislative files) which update the procedures for adoption and decision-making concerning a broad range of trade regulations, such as the trade defence instruments. The compromise proposal submitted by the Cyprus Presidency for Omnibus I has recently been adopted by the Council and the trilogue negotiations with the European Parliament have already been arranged with the aim of reaching an overall agreement.
Furthermore, the examination of the proposed Regulation on financial responsibility for investor-state dispute settlement by the Trade Policy Committee has progressed significantly. The Council will take stock of the situation and will have an orientation debate, on the basis of a note prepared by the Cyprus Presidency.
Finally, at the working lunch that will conclude the meeting, Ministers will discuss the current developments in EU – Russia trade relations, particularly after Russia’s recent accession to the World Trade Organization. EU – China trade and investment relations will also be discussed.
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