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The Impact of EU Trade Agreements on Global Economy: A €2 Trillion Game Changer

Unlocking the Value: A Comprehensive Analysis of EU Trade Agreements and Their Impact on Businesses in 2022

The Third Annual Report on the Implementation and Enforcement of EU Trade Policy, which was released in November 2023, states that in 2022, the value of commerce between the EU and its international partners via free trade agreements topped €2 trillion for the first time.

According to a survey by the European Commission, trade growth with our top 20 trading partners averaged over 30% in 2022. In collaboration with EU companies and Member States, the Commission also removed more than thirty trade restrictions in 19 different nations. In 2022 alone, 7 billion euros in EU exports were made possible thanks to the five years of barrier-breaking efforts. Additionally, our agreements have strengthened worker rights and environmental protection.

Trade agreements are critical for the EU’s economic security. They support jobs, growth and innovation, help us respond to geopolitical shocks, and reduce critical dependencies. Strengthening our focus on implementation and enforcement has generated billions in savings for our exporters as well as delivering stronger protection for environment and labour rights – meaning we are delivering even more value from our trade deals
Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade - 15/11/2023

With 74 nations participating in trade agreements, the EU has the greatest network of accords in the world and accounts for 44% of all EU commerce. With the exception of energy items, trade between the EU and its trade agreement partners surpassed trade with all other countries in 2022. These agreements have aided in maintaining investment and commerce amid a challenging international economic climate marked by escalating geopolitical risks, such as Russia's actions against Ukraine.

Trade agreements encourage diversity, resilience, and exports.

Trade agreements kept generating stronger supply networks and economic development by:

  • giving EU producers and farmers new export opportunities: for instance, under the relevant trade agreements, EU exports of pharmaceuticals to Vietnam increased by 152%, EU exports of automobiles and parts to South Korea by 217%, EU exports of meat to Canada increased by 136%, and EU exports of services to Canada increased by 54%. 670 000 small and medium-sized EU companies that export to third countries are supported by EU trade.

  • Increasing the exports' resistance to external shocks: The €174 billion increase in EU shipments of items subject to sanctions to preferred partners in 2022 more than made up for the €27 billion decline in exports to Russia.

Gaining access to vital inputs and minimising over-reliance on one nation: during the first five years of the EU-Canada (CETA) agreement, imports of essential raw materials into the EU increased by 56%, while growth in imports of these materials from other sources only reached 25%. This development supported the EU's diversification strategy away from Russia. Essential raw resources are needed for the EU economy to undergo digital and ecological revolutions.

Taking down obstacles and resolving conflicts

Thirteen trade obstacles were lifted in 19 partner countries by the Commission in 2022. In crucial industries like agri-food, medicines, and health and beauty, this increases EU exports.

Examples include Costa Rica eliminating its ten-year 10% charge on beer imported from the EU and the US lifting long-standing restrictions on the entry of sheep and goat products.

At the World Trade Organisation, dispute resolution proceeded. Over an unfair green energy subsidy programme, the EU started four new complaints, the first of which was with the United Kingdom. After only four months, a mutually agreeable solution was reached to this disagreement. In addition, the EU won its battle with Turkey about discriminatory practises in medicines, and it is now keeping an eye on Turkey's efforts to comply.

Encouraging sustainability

Under those accords, which include a chapter on trade and sustainable development, the EU also achieved headway on labour and environmental concerns. Japan and South Korea ratified fundamental ILO conventions as part of this process, which was anticipated in their respective trade agreements with the European Union. Revisions to labour rules have been initiated by Peru and Colombia as a result of increased interaction with these nations.

For Further Details

Value of EU trade deals surpasses €2 trillion - IP/23/5742, see the Report, Staff Working Document, the Brochure & Foreword by EVP Valdis Dombrovskis

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