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EU Informal Foreign Affairs Council

Volume 623: debated on Tuesday 14 March 2017

My noble Friend the Minister of State for Trade Policy (Lord Price) has today made the following statement.

The EU informal Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) took place in Brussels on 3 March 2017. I represented the UK at the meeting. A summary of the discussions follows.

Anti-dumping methodology

The Commission (Commissioner Malmström) presented its proposal for a new anti-dumping methodology. With a WTO ruling on China’s dispute likely by the end of the year, Malmström called for rapid agreement to avoid a legal vacuum in the EU. She recognised that the challenge was to find an approach that was both fully compliant with WTO rules while retaining effective trade defence measures.

There was broad support for the proposals as a basis for further discussion, while noting the importance of working to get the details right to ensure proportionality, simplicity, effectiveness and legal certainty. I called for the EU to promote openness against protectionist headwinds, and noted the need to respect the interests of consumers as well as producers.

Autonomous trade measures for Ukraine

The Commission urged support for its proposed extension of autonomous trade measures for Ukraine. Malmström insisted that the additional quotas would not impact EU markets but would be valuable to Ukraine while difficult economic reforms were under way.

Multilateral investment court

Malmström underlined the global interest in amending investor-state dispute arrangements in general, and in the idea of a multilateral investment court (MIC) in particular. Following extensive international outreach conducted jointly with the Canadians, the Commission expected to seek a mandate to launch formal negotiations over the next year. Malmström recalled that the MIC would not provide any new rights for investors but rather ensure a more legitimate means of resolving disputes.

Most member states supported the concept of the MIC, although many emphasised the importance—and potential difficulty—of securing a critical mass of global and cross-stakeholder endorsement.