ECR secure key pledges on making Europe “open for business”

The EU’s new Trade Commissioner has pledged to explore new opportunities for free-trade deals as they arise – both across the Atlantic and elsewhere.

The EU’s new Trade Commissioner has pledged to explore new opportunities for free-trade deals as they arise – both across the Atlantic and elsewhere.

Cecilia Malmstrom told the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee she was looking for a fresh start to negotiations on the EU-United States trade agreement– with the emphasis on transparency. In answer to questions from Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin she said she was already in touch with the Mexican government and hoped negotiations for a new trade deal could begin next year.

Miss McClarkin, lead MEP on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, asked the commissioner whether Europe was really open for business? She expressed concern about the progress of TTIP and concern on lack of progress on other trade negotiations.
She told the Commissioner: “We need to see action and delivery. The timescale for trade deals can be very long, but people want to see action now so e can deliver real jobs and growth.

The East Midlands UK MEP went on: “While TTIP is of course the main event these days, it is imperative that we do not forget other trade deals and trade relationships. I am an advocate for opening up trade with Latin America, both in terms of forging new deals and building on existing ones.

“Our relationship with Mexico is a case in point. I understand that progress is due to be made with Mexico next year, including a joint EU-Mexico summit to begin high level political discussions perhaps in the late spring/early summer. Can the Commissioner confirm that the Commission will focus resources on delivering a negotiating mandate with the European Council for an updated free trade agreement (FTA) with Mexico at the earliest opportunity following these talks?

“We also need to look at the global picture. Last month we saw the conclusion of the FTA between China and Australia. Agreements were made in areas such as agriculture, resources and energy, manufacturing exports, services and investment. It is quite clear in this regard that Australia, which also has similar agreements with Korea and Japan, is open to concluding free trade deals. While I understand that EU and Australian negotiators have recently agreed a framework agreement on economic and trade matters, I want to go one step further and begin talking about a comprehensive FTA with Australia.”

The Commissioner said she believed Europe was open for business and trade had to be at the centre of a strategy for growth and jobs. She had already been in contact with Mexico’s government to discuss its ideas for the scope of any potential agreement and she hoped to re-launch negotiations next year.

On Australia and New Zealand the EU must examine exactly what was to be achieved by a free trade agreement – especially on agricultural produce – and whether there was more to gain than to lose.

In her key message on TTIP, the commissioner said: “As well as clarity about what an agreement will include we must be clear about what it will not include. Public services will not be included.”

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