On 27 November in Brussels, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council convened for a meeting on the issues of the common trade policy. Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs pledged strong support for introducing the free trade provisions of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement from 1 January 2016.
In discussions Edgars Rinkēvičs underscored the importance of the Association Agreement for carrying out political and economic reforms in Ukraine and said he was convinced that the implementation of the Agreement will boost Ukraine’s economy and stimulate an increase of welfare of the Ukrainian people. The Minister called for continued support for Ukraine’s process of reform.
Referring to the state of play in the EU’s trade negotiations, the Minister emphasised the economic and geopolitical significance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and pointed out that talks should be taken forward to an ambitious and balanced conclusion. Edgars Rinkēvičs drew attention to the issues of transparency and accessibility on the course of negotiations for EU Member States and their Parliaments. The Foreign Minister also supported more active cooperation between the EU and the members of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) including on trade negotiations and their resumption.
In a discussion on preparations for the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 15 to 18 December 2015, Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs accentuated the importance of EU leadership in multilateral talks as work is under way to formulate results for the Nairobi Conference. The Minister noted that concrete decisions should be made in Nairobi for the further liberalisation of trade, especially in the areas such as export competition and support given to the least developed countries. Edgars Rinkēvičs called for launching an active debate on the WTO’s work in the wake of the Nairobi Conference, what to include on the WTO agenda and new ways of approaching those agenda items.
The Council adopted conclusions on EU trade and investment policy based on the Communication from the Commission entitled “Trade for All. Towards a more responsible trade and investment strategy.
At the working lunch with participation of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, EU-China relations were discussed including the course of negotiations on an investment agreement. The Ministers also exchanged views on steps to be taken to grant market economy status to China.
The Ministers also discussed developments in the steel sector and heard the European Commission’s opinion on opportunities for support offered to this sector through use of trade policy instruments.
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