On Tuesday, 24th January, Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business Chris Cardona presented the Trade Priorities of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU before the European Parliament's International Trade Committee.

Minister Cardona noted that the Maltese Presidency comes at a critical moment for international trade, following a series of events in 2016 that have presented new challenges and critical moments for EU trade policy, such as Brexit, as well as the process of approving the agreement with Canada in the Council.

In the past few years, an increased interest by the EU society on various aspects of trade policy, has been seen. To address these challenges, Minister Cardona noted that the EU institutions and governments of the member states need to listen to EU citizens and explain the benefits of trade policy better, whilst highlighting the trade-offs. Furthermore, in a constantly evolving scenario, sensitivity to new developments, while ensuring that the EU is well equipped with flanking policies to mitigate any downside from trade policy, is essential.

"International trade is for us a key policy area in view of its importance for the economy, creation of new jobs and in maintaining global competitiveness. We need to be forward looking and we must ensure that the EU remains a major competitive global player and a leader in international trade", said Minister Cardona.

During these six months, the Maltese Presidency will do its best as an honest broker within the Council to ensure a cooperative approach with the European Parliament, to deliver on international trade, making it relevant to EU citizens.

In this regard, the Presidency will seek to inject new momentum with respect to the current EU trade agenda, and to continue building on the good work that has already been done by the trio partners. Minister Cardona noted that the objective is to make progress in all the main areas of international trade, including:

  • in negotiations at various levels, namely in multilateral, plurilateral and bilateral discussions – including WTO issues, Trade and Services Agreement (TiSA) and Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), ongoing bilateral negotiations with several countries, including TTIP negotiations with the US, and the United Kingdom after it triggers Article 50;
  • working on new mandates for FTAs;
  • advancing on legislative proposals to achieve balanced and mutually beneficial outcomes – including the reforming of regulation that controls the export of dual-use goods and on the modernisation of the EU's trade defence instruments.

In conclusion, Minister Cardona said that the Maltese Presidency is fully committed towards finding suitable solutions jointly, for the benefit of the EU economy, jobs and citizens in general, and delivering the benefits of trade agreements to the public.


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