My noble Friend the Minister of State for Trade and Investment (Lord Price) has today made the following statement.
I represented the UK at the EU Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) in Brussels on 13 May 2016. A summary of the main discussions follows.
EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
Trade Commissioner Malmström introduced CETA and made clear that the EU now needed to implement the deal. The Commission intended to sign the deal at the end of October at the EU-Canada summit. A consent vote in the European Parliament would then follow in late 2016, or early 2017. I urged rapid implementation of CETA. I and most of my counterparts from other member states were of the view that this trade agreement should be mixed as it contained areas of member state competence.
Commissioner Malmström highlighted good progress on some areas but that work remained on others. The Commissioner’s aim was to finalise TTIP under the Obama Administration. Before the summer, negotiators were therefore working towards full consolidated texts in most areas. The EU was also pushing for a new US procurement offer.
All member states reiterated their desire for a balanced and ambitious agreement. I pressed for conclusion of an ambitious deal in 2016, pointing out that with projected economic gains from TTIP of €250 billion globally, each month’s delay was €8 billion foregone for the EU economy. I signalled the UK’s desire to see the Commission table a market access offer in financial services.
Trade-related aspects of the recent communication on steel
Commissioner Malmström outlined the Commission’s response so far to the steel crisis, and went on to set out the latest Commission ideas for disapplying the “lesser duty rule” (LDR), and redefining the methodology for calculating the injury caused to industry. She finished by announcing that the Commission had that day launched an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese imports of hot-rolled coiled steel. Discussion revolved around whether LDR needed to be disapplied in extreme cases.
I lauded the Commission’s efforts on the steel crisis so far, including the announcement on hot-rolled coiled steel. I said that trade defence modernisation was needed, and the UK was keen to play a constructive role in finding a solution. But on LDR, the evidence suggested that the rule had been working and had delivered the right results.
In preparation for the 11th WTO ministerial conference (December 2017), Commissioner Malmström said the EU should focus on the areas where it could add most value, i.e. on the development of rules rather than market access negotiations, and on sectoral initiatives.