Spanish presidency closes trade agreement with New Zealand and pushes forward negotiations with Mercosur

News - 2023.11.27

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Brussels hosted the Foreign Affairs Trade Council meeting where EU ministers reviewed the state of play of ongoing bilateral trade negotiations between the EU and other countries and regions.

Within these, the decision for the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and New Zealand has been approved, which will enter into force once the New Zealand authorities have completed their legal procedures.

In addition, the state of the EU's trade agenda was discussed, both from the point of view of trade negotiations, in particular the EU-Mercosur Agreement and other agreements such as those with India, Indonesia and Thailand.

This meeting was chaired by the Secretary of State for Trade, Xiana Méndez, by delegation of the First Vice-President Nadia Calviño, and was attended by the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis and the trade ministers of the EU member states.

"This is a key moment to make progress in diversifying export and import markets for supplies that are of paramount importance for the EU's economic security. In particular, the Spanish presidency is fully committed to achieving definitive progress on the agreement between the EU and Mercosur, as one of the EU's priority trading partners", said Xiana Méndez.

Apart from this agreement, trade ministers also discussed preparations for the signing of the Interim Trade Agreement with Chile, scheduled for December 2023.

Transatlantic relations

The Foreign Affairs Trade Council also discussed the state of the EU's trade relations with the US. EU trade ministers expressed the importance of maintaining contact with the US authorities to resolve existing trade frictions, with the aim of facilitating trade between the two blocs.

"Trade and investment relations between the EU and the US are the most intense in the world. We must continue to persevere in our commercial ties and resolve differences to ensure the most favourable business climate possible", stressed the Spanish Secretary of State for Trade.

Also in the framework of this meeting, the Report on 'Implementation and Enforcement of EU Trade Policy' by the European Commission has been presented.

Strengthening the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

Another point discussed was preparations for the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, scheduled for the end of February 2024, and the need for a multilateral global order based on clear and fair-trade rules.

Along these lines, and together with the rest of the EU member states, Spain stressed that the WTO must be able to face the growing challenges of international trade in the 21st century, such as fisheries subsidies, food security, e-commerce and the facilitation of investment for development.

About the Foreign Affairs Council - Trade

In its trade ministers' configuration, the Foreign Affairs Council deals with issues relating to the common commercial policy as part of the EU's foreign policy.

As this is an exclusive EU competence, the Commission is responsible for negotiating and managing trade agreements involving tariff changes, trade and customs provisions. For its part, the Council plays a crucial role by giving the Commission a mandate to enter into negotiations and issuing directives for the conduct of negotiations. To this effect, and together with the European Parliament, the Council adopts the implementing measures for the EU's common commercial policy.

Non official translation