Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment

Trade Agreements

Photo of Neale RichmondNeale Richmond (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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69. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment the status of the EU trade deals being negotiated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25944/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The information requested by the Deputy is set out in tabular format as follows:

Country Status Next Steps
Australia Officials from the European Commission and Australia held the 8th round of negotiations for a trade agreement between the European Union and Australia from 14 to 25 September 2020 by a series of video-conferences. Working groups and sub-groups met covering most of the areas of the future trade agreement. Negotiators discussed the textual proposals that had been submitted for the different chapters, and the respective comments received. Where possible, negotiators agreed in principle on text acceptable to both sides as well as a number of follow-up actions. The 9th negotiation round is provisionally scheduled for the beginning of December 2020.
New Zealand There have been 8 rounds of negotiations to date with the 8th taking place by Video conference during early June 2020. In advance of the 8th round the EU provided NZ with its second market access offer which includes sensitive agricultural products. The 9th round is not yet been scheduled but is likely to take place sometime between the NZ election on 17th October and the end of 2020.
Chile The most recent round of negotiations (7th) took place via videoconference on 25th-29th May 2020 – six months after the previous round. The European Commission reported good progress in a significant number of chapters, including Services, Rules of Origin and Public Procurement. Constructive discussions also occurred in a range of other areas including Financial Services, Investment, Geographical Indications and Trade in Goods. Considerable work is, however, still needed on these chapters. The next round of negotiations has not yet been scheduled.
Indonesia The tenth round of negotiations for an EU – Indonesia Free Trade Agreement was delayed due to COVID-19 and took place by videoconference from 15th to 26th June. Nearly all working groups met, except for the groups where texts are either close to technical conclusion or can only be concluded at a later stage. Discussions in all groups focused on selected provisions with good progress recorded across many chapters, in particular with regard to geographical indications, rules of origin and product specific rules, technical barriers to trade and general regulatory provisions as well as on subsidies. Progress was also achieved on the text for trade in Services. Unfortunately, the timeline for exchanging first market access offers in government procurement was not agreed. Progress was also limited on trade in goods discussions and on the trade and sustainable development chapter. The date for the next round of negotiations is still to be agreed.
Mexico In April 2018 the European Union and Mexico reached a new agreement on trade as part of a broader, modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement, under which practically all trade in goods between the EU and Mexico will now be duty-free, including in the agricultural sector. The text of the Agreement had been undergoing a legal review by EU Commission experts, a process known as “legal scrubbing”. The one remaining issue following the finalisation of formal trade negotiations was EU access to public procurement at sub-central Mexican Government level. This issue has now been resolved. The next step is for the Commission to submit the Agreement for the approval of the Council and the European Parliament.
Mercosur On 30th June 2019, the EU announced the conclusion of trade negotiations with the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). The EU-Mercosur Agreement is the EU’s largest trade deal to date. The Agreement is the largest agreement the EU has concluded to date, with trade in goods and services valued at €122 billion. The Agreement aims to reduce, and in some areas, eliminate trade tariffs between the EU and the Mercosur region. Both sides are currently preforming a legal revision of the agreed text to come up with the final version of the Association Agreement and all its trade aspects. The Commission will then translate it into all official EU languages and submit the Association Agreement to EU Member States and the European Parliament for approval.
China The 32nd round of the EU-China investment agreement negotiations took place between 21 and 24 September 2020 by videoconference. The negotiating round focused on market access offers and sustainable development. On market access, extensive discussions were held on sector specific asks with both sides exchanging feedback and expectations for further improvement. On sustainable development, the Parties continued exchanges on the mechanism for addressing differences. Progress was also registered with regard to the rules on entry and stay of business visitors and intra-corporate transferees. The 33rd round of negotiations are to be held between 19-23 October 2020
United States On 15 April 2019 the EU (Trade) Council approved the negotiating directives - or mandates - for the commencement of trade negotiations with the US in the sectors of conformity assessment and the removal of tariffs on industrial goods. Agriculture was specifically excluded from the negotiations. These mandates are being overseen by an Executive Working Group led by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and, for the EU, the EU's Trade Commissioner. On the 21 August 2020 the US and EU announced an agreement on a package of tariff reductions that would increase market access for hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. and EU exports. These tariff reductions would be the first US-EU negotiated reductions in duties in more than two decades. Under the agreement, the EU would eliminate tariffs on imports of U.S. live and frozen lobster products. The EU tariffs would be eliminated for a period of five years and the European Commission would promptly initiate procedures aimed at making the tariff changes permanent. The US would reduce by 50% its tariff rates on certain products exported by the EU including certain prepared meals, certain crystal glassware, surface preparations, propellant powders, cigarette lighters and lighter parts. Subject to the successful conclusion of the normal ratification procedures applying in both jurisdictions, it is hoped that agreeing this package of tariff reductions, albeit not as wide-ranging as the two existing EU negotiating directives provide for, would increase momentum towards further negotiations which would see a more comprehensive agreement on industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

In addition to the above the since the beginning of 2019 EU Trade Agreements have entered into force with Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement has been provisionally applied since September 2017 allowing Irish companies take advantage of the all-important provisions of CETA including the elimination of tariffs on almost all key exports, access to the Canadian procurement market, the easing of regulatory barriers and more transparent rules for market access.

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