The Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries of the EU gathered yesterday in Brussels to analyze the state of trade negotiations that the European Commission is carrying out with third countries. Meanwhile, the Commission presented its work program for 2018, which establishes the signing of agreements with Japan, Singapore and Vietnam as priorities in trade policy.
The EU Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries, including Isabel Garcia Tejerina, exchanged views on the report presented by the European Commission on the ongoing trade negotiations with Mercosur, India, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as well as the negotiations that have already concluded or are pending a final ratification with Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and South Korea, and the negotiations with the United States, which are currently on hold.
The principle of agreement reached on July 6 with Japan, which according to the European Commission will eliminate the vast majority of tariffs paid by EU companies (up to 1,000 million euro per year) and open the Japanese market to the main agricultural exports of the EU, was highlighted as a political milestone. Regarding Mercosur, they highlighted that there had already been 29 meetings, the last one of which was held from October 2 to the 6 in Brasilia, and that progress had been made in all areas. However, the Commission echoed the concerns of some member states of the EU regarding some agricultural sectors that are considered sensitive, especially meat and chicken.
According to the Commission, the negotiations between the EU and Mexico are also picking up speed. In the last meeting, progress was achieved in many areas, including merchandise trade, rules of origin or technical barriers to trade.
The Commission also said that negotiations with Australia and New Zealand are expected to begin as soon as the Council approves the negotiation mandate, and that the aim was to finalize them before the elections of June 2019.
The European Commission recently presented its work program for 2018, where it prioritized the signing of agreements with Japan, Singapore and Vietnam, continuing negotiations with Mexico and Mercosur, and starting meetings with New Zealand and Australia.
The commercial negotiations of the European Commission with non-EU countries can be an opportunity to diversify exports of fresh fruits and vegetables, which, according to FEPEX, is one of the objectives of the sector, provided that the principle of reciprocity is incorporated and that they are countries with a population and consumption potential.