UE : Accords de libre échange : état d’avancement des négociations, Trade-related agricultural issues - Information from the Commission, 5344/18

Niveau juridique : Union européenne

En préparation de la réunion du conseil « Agriculture et pêche » du 29 janvier 2018, la note suivante a été transmise au Conseil par la COmmission. Elle résume l’état d’avancement des processus de négociations des différents accords de libre-échange dans lesquels est engagé l’Union européenne.

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« Commissioner Hogan is continuing his series of diplomatic offensives to promote European products across the globe. On 7-13 November 2017, he visited Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the aim of enhancing cooperation in the field of agriculture and rural development and further developing bilateral trade in agri-food products.

For Saudi Arabia, key sectors include poultry and beef, dairy, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, olive oil, bakery, confectionery and chocolate products, cereals for human use and fodder/cereals for animal use. For Iran, the key sectors are dairy, meat (particularly beef and sheep meat), olive oil, cereals and oilseeds, food and feed additives, and genetic materials (both of plant and animal origin).


At the same time, the EU continues to pursue a bold agenda of trade negotiations with major players. A major success was achieved on 8 December 2017, when the EU and Japan concluded negotiations for the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. The agreement will remove the vast majority of the €1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan, as well as a number of long-standing regulatory barriers. It will also open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports and will increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors.

EU-Mercosur negotiations are approaching the endgame. A new negotiating session took place in Buenos Aires, during the 11thWTO Ministerial Conference (10-13 December 2017), and both parties are strongly determined to finalise the negotiations during the first quarter of 2018. For the EU, the agreement has a very high commercial value -« three times the value of the agreement with Japan and eight times the value of the agreement with Canada » according to Commissioner Malmström. However, a number of EU Member States have repeatedly expressed serious concerns (for example, at the Agriculture/Fisheries Council meeting on 6 November 2017), about the risks an agreement with Mercosur would create for the most sensitive EU agricultural sectors, especially beef, ethanol, sugar and poultry, also recalling the need to maintain high SPS and animal welfare standards.

EU-Mexico negotiations are also headed towards the endgame. The last round of negotiations took place in Brussels between 12 and 21 December 2017. It was followed by discussions in Mexico City from 8 to 17 January 2018, with significant progress across all chapters. The next round will take place from 12 to 16 February 2018, in Mexico City. Despite lingering difficulties, negotiations might be politically concluded by February 2018, provided that Mexico has the political will to do so. The EU will continue to pursue its offensive interests strongly regarding full liberalisation for dairy products, GI protection, public procurement at the sub-federal level and the investment court system (ICS).

On 13 September 2017, the Commission submitted to Council recommendations to launch negotiations for trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, together with the respective draft negotiating directives. These are currently being examined. Actual negotiations will be launched once the Council adopts the negotiating directives, and the Commission aims to finalise them before the end of its current term. The EU is the third largest trading partner for both Australia and New Zealand.

On the multilateral side, the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (Buenos Aires, 10-13 December 2017) ended up with limited results, essentially due to the US blocking a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes, which in turn prompted India to block decisions on all other subjects. The EU will continue to be a constructive, flexible player and is ready to explore ways to move forward, allowing members to advance on the multilateral track but also to make progress through an open-geometry approach. As shown above and outlined in the attached table, the EU continues to champion free and fair trade. As Commissioner Hogan explained at the EU Agricultural Outlook Conference 2017, the emphasis of trade negotiations has moved more visibly from multilateral to bilateral deals, requiring a careful balancing of offensive and defensive interests, with due attention paid to certain sensitive sectors. The EU will continue to work hard to pursue its agricultural interests within trade agreements, achieving the right balance between offensive and defensive interests, which includes SPS issues and the protection of geographical indications. »

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