Photo: Grigore Popescu (Agerpres)
The informal meeting of the EU trade ministers took place in Bucharest on February 21 and 22, 2019, having the WTO modernization process and EU-US trade relations as the main issues on the agenda.
The meeting was chaired by Ștefan-Radu Oprea, minister for Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship, with the participation of the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström.
The agenda of the plenary session on Friday included the EU strategy concerning the WTO modernization process, notably the Appellate Body crisis. The participants underlined the need to advance sectorial WTO negotiations, with a view to achieving tangible results at the 12th Ministerial Conference, which will take place between June 8 and 11 June, 2020, in Astana, Kazakhstan. The modernization of the WTO is one of the top priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council.
On the EU-US trade relations, the ministers agreed to continue the discussions at political level, with a view to adopting the negotiating directives on the conformity assessment and the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods, as soon as possible.
”The Romanian Presidency has invested significant efforts and reached a compromise at technical level, on both draft negotiating directives, addressing all remaining comments and concerns of the Member States. The endorsement of the mandates is now subject to a political decision”, said Ștefan-Radu Oprea.
During the working lunch, Commissioner Malmström updated the ministers on the ongoing trade negotiations with third countries (Australia, New Zealand, Mercosur, Mexico, Tunisia, Chile etc.) and on the implementation of the EU “Everything-But-Arms” initiative under the GSP Regulation, especially in relation with Cambodia and Myanmar.
The informal meeting of the EU trade ministers was followed by a joint press conference of Minister Ștefan-Radu Oprea and Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
In the margins of the informal ministerial meeting on 21 February 2019, Commissioner Malmström and Minister Oprea hosted a Citizens’ Dialogue focused on the EU trade policy agenda. This event was followed by joint press statements by Minister Oprea and Roberto Azevêdo, Director General of the World Trade Organization, on issues related to the multilateral trading system and increased participation of the SMEs in international trade, in the digital era.
Roberto Azevêdo and Bernd Lange, Chair of the Committee on International Trade of the European Parliament attended the official dinner on Thursday, offered by the Romanian Presidency to the EU trade ministers.