EU trade agreements and future trade and investment agenda
While only less than a quarter of EU trade was covered by FTAs before 2006, currently this figure is more than 35% and could reach two thirds if all ongoing negotiations are concluded. This is by far the most ambitious trade agenda in the world today.
In the past few years, EU has negotiated a landmark agreement with Canada and the FTA with Korea entered into force in 2011. EU has also signed and implemented FTAs with six countries of Central America, with Peru and Colombia and in 2017 Ecuador has joined the latter agreement. Deep and Comprehensive FTAs in the EU’s neighbourhood with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are applied.
The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement CETA was signed on 30 October 2016 and the start of its provisional application is planned for the second half of 2017.
In African, Caribbean and Pacific region, Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with SADC region and "stepping stone EPAs" with Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana entered into provisional application in 2016. EU-Cameroon, EU-Eastern and Southern Africa, EU-CARIFORUM and EU-Pacific EPAs are being implemented.
EU‘s negotiating agenda now covers two of the EU’s largest trading partners (the US and Japan) and key emerging country partners alike (including Mexico, MERCOSUR, several ASEAN countries – such as Indonesia and Philippines, Tunisia). The negotiations with China for a comprehensive investment agreement are also ongoing.
Ensuring fair trade rules
EU trade policy aims to open new markets for European exporters, workers and investors through lifting barriers to the markets of our trading partners. The EU works closely with countries outside Europe to:
- remove persistent problems for exporters
- increase the opportunities for EU businesses to get equal access to procurement markets outside the EU
- reduce counterfeiting and piracy of European goods
- open up new opportunities for European investment
Because international trade rules are designed to ensure that trade is fair, it is vital that they are respected. European interests are represented and defended in the court system of the World Trade Organisation to ensure that WTO obligations are met.
The EU is also making sure that the imports that enter the EU are traded at fair prices and that they do not cause unfair damage to European companies and their workers.
Lithuania in the EU trade policy
While it is the European Commission that negotiates with the trading partners on behalf of the EU, it does this, working closely with the Member States in the EU Council and keeping the European Parliament fully informed. The Council sets out the general objectives to be achieved in the negotiations before giving the Commission an authorisation to negotiate a trade agreement. During the process of negotiations, the Commission reports regularly to the Council and the European Parliament. Once the negotiations have been completed, the Commission presents the deal to the Council and the European Parlament which then have to agree to the negotiated outcome and prepare the way for signature and ratification of the deal.
Lithuania is highly dependent on foreign trade due to the large exporting industrial and agricultural sectors. Therefore, as the Member of EU Council, Lithuania is a strong supporter of EU‘s trade and investment policy serving business and society, strengthening its industry and boosting growth, competitiveness and employment within the EU. Lithuania, together with other EU members, seeks that the rules of international trade, set in WTO agreements, would be smoothly implemented and their review in the negotiations would contribute to the strengthening of the multilateral trade system.
Both the EU and all its Member States are members of the World Trade Organization. While only the Commission negotiates on behalf of the EU and represents the EU in most meetings (after having consulted EU Member States in various meetings both in Brussels and Geneva), all EU Member States are full WTO Members in their own right and can be elected as Chairs of various WTO bodies. WTO. Lithuania has been a member of WTO since 31 May 2001 and has held chairmanship of the WTO Committee on Customs Valuation, Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, Committee on Balance-of-Payments Restrictions and Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the coordination and representation of Lithuanian trade policy.
The Market Access Database (MADB) gives information to companies exporting from the EU about import conditions in third country markets, such as tariffs, procedures and formalities, statistics, trade barriers, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues, rules of origin and services for small and medium enterprises (SME).
The EU Tariff section from the Market Access Database provides information on EU tariffs and other import measures applied to a given product imported into the EU.