Relations with key trading partners
Today we reviewed the state of play of some key free trade negotiations. Our heavy agenda demonstrates how important global trade is for the EU. It is absolutely crucial to keep an open, constructive dialogue with our partners. Free trade is an essential instrument for bringing global growth, creating new economic opportunities and strengthening strategic cooperation.
Emil Karanikolov, minister of economy of Bulgaria
Infographic - EU trade with Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand
The Council authorised the Commission to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. Ministers adopted negotiating directives for each of the negotiations.
Trade agreements with both countries would aim primarily at further reducing existing barriers to trade, removing custom duties on goods, and giving better access for services and public procurement in Australia and New Zealand.
Japan and Singapore
The Council had an exchange of views on free trade agreements (FTAs) with Japan and Singapore, as well as an investment protection agreement (IPA) with Singapore, on the basis of the proposals adopted by the Commission on 18 April 2018.
Ministers stressed the economic and strategic importance of the agreements with both partners and encouraged the continuation of intensive work towards their signature and conclusion. The aim is for the two FTAs to be implemented in the course of 2019.
The Commission also informed the Council of the progress of other ongoing trade negotiations, in particular with Mexico, Mercosur, Chile and Vietnam.
Over lunch, ministers discussed recent developments in the EU's trade relations with the United States.
New architecture of trade agreements
The Council adopted conclusions on the negotiation and conclusion of EU trade agreements. The conclusions set out the key principles underpinning the Council's approach towards trade negotiations from now on.
The conclusions focus in particular on the Commission's intention to recommend to splitting between separate agreements provisions related to investment and other trade provisions and on the Council's role in trade negotiations.