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Karel De Gucht

European Commissioner for Trade

A renewed trade strategy for Europe

Presentation of the "Trade, Growth and World Affairs" Communication, European Commission

Brussels, 9 November 2010

Good afternoon. I'm here to present to you the Commission's renewed trade strategy.

History has taught us that trade works.

Europe has been a trading hub for many centuries. Over time, this has helped to bring us the prosperity that we know today.

Trade has a real and positive impact on the day to day lives of European citizens by generating jobs, growth and consumer benefits.

But of course, world trade has been undergoing profound changes.

The supply chain of many goods and services now interlinks factories and offices across the globe. Two thirds of EU imports are designed for further processing, often into products that are themselves exported.

In other words, we import to export.

This is why Europe has an interest in an open trading regime within a fair and rules-based, international framework.

The tectonic plates of global commerce are moving. The challenges - as well as the opportunities - from globalisation are greater than ever before.

At a time of economic crisis, we have to step up efforts to ensure that trade delivers more growth and more jobs in the years to come. Trade has a key role to play in the economic recovery.

And this is reflected in a public opinion survey for the Commission released today. This poll tells us what Europeans feel about trade. It shows they think that trade is good for Europe and that Europe can compete successfully in international trade. It shows that the main benefits of trade are considered to be the wider choice for consumers and the lower prices.

But our citizens are requesting us to do more. More than six in ten Europeans believe that the priority for trade in the future should be to create employment. They also feel that trade has to deliver real advantages to consumers and that the same rules for trade should be applied around the world.

Today's launch of a renewed trade strategy responds to these views. My trade agenda for this Commission will cover six priorities.

First we have to complete our current negotiations to deliver new opportunities for trade and investment. This means completing over the next few years a series of ambitious trade agreements. These will be both at the multilateral level through the WTO in the form of the Doha Round, and bilaterally with a number of major trading partners - with a particular push in 2011 on the deals with India, Canada, Ukraine and Mercosur.

Second, I want to deepen our trade and investment links with other major trading partners - the US, China, Japan and Russia – and to build on European Council discussions on strategic partnerships. The primary focus with these countries will be on tackling non-tariff barriers to trade and investment.

Global trade issues are changing and we have to evolve too in response. Cutting import tariffs is still important but the majority of trade barriers now lie elsewhere. This means:

  • improved market access for services and investment;

  • opening up public procurement;

  • better protection of intellectual property;

  • an unrestricted supply of raw materials and energy;

  • and finally overcoming regulatory barriers.

By taking the action I've just outlined by 2020, we can expect EU GDP to be more than 1% higher than it would otherwise be.

Third, globalisation blurs distinctions between domestic and international policies. The rules we set at home influence our competitiveness abroad.

We need to help European businesses – of all sizes - to access global markets.

Where the EU is open, such as in public procurement, we need to ensure European businesses can benefit from the same terms of access to our partner's markets.

Where Europe's openness is not matched elsewhere, I want to redress that balance.

Fourth, foreign investment is an engine for job creation in the EU and abroad. More than four and a half million people work for US and Japanese companies in the EU alone. I want to address the needs of EU investors outside the EU. We will look at negotiating comprehensive investment provisions with key trading partners, such as India, Canada, Singapore as well as China and Russia.

Fifth, I am proposing a greater focus on enforcement, using all appropriate means to stand up for our rights and to ensure that trade rules are fairly applied to all.

Europe rejects protectionism. This is the message Europe will take to the G20 in Seoul later this week.

I will act against the worst protectionist measures established by other countries.

We will start by producing a Report for the European Council that sets our priorities for enforcement against specific trade barriers and protectionist measures.

Finally, I believe that trade must be inclusive so that everyone can share the benefits of the global economy.

It's not just about opening markets but it's about helping people, and countries, adjust to open markets as well. That is why setting a broad development- trade agenda remains so important to me.

Looking at inclusiveness beyond Europe's borders, I will spell out in 2011 how trade can continue to support development through a new framework for important trade preferences for developing countries.

A strong EU trade policy should be based on multilateralism. It must be built on a spirit of reciprocity and partnership.

The Commission will fight to open markets and to keep markets open.

We will create fair conditions for trade.

Today's proposal is my contribution to the Europe 2020 plan:

  • to ensure trade works for Europe;

  • to ensure trade works for each and every one of us;

  • to ensure trade works to restore confidence, growth – and jobs.

Thank you very much.

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