Free Trade Agreements

Here is the latest news relating to free trade agreements.

•Negotiations for an EU-China investment protection agreement have begun in Beijing. For the EU, it is essential that ISDS be included, since this would be important in any agreement with the United States. China would not be likely to agree to ISDS unless the USA did so too.

•EU-India negotiations are effectively on ice. India wants exemptions in several areas which the EU cannot accept.

•EU-Japan negotiations have stagnated. If Japan fails to make sufficient concessions in terms of market access and technical barriers to trade, it cannot be ruled out that the EU Commission would break off negotiations.

•A third round of negotiations between the EU and Thailand was held in December. The EU is Thailand’s third-largest trading partner. In 2012, bilateral trade in goods amounted to EUR 31.7 billion. Thailand is under pressure as a result of its GSP benefits with the EU being phased out from 1 January 2014 and removed entirely from 1 January 2015. Political unrest in the country is likely to delay the process, as will internal uncertainty with regard to the effect of changes in the rules governing intellectual property rights.

The EU and China are close to an agreement on the mutual recognition of
a programme for authorised economic operators. Mutual recognition should mean that the EU and
China provide economic operators with facilitative benefits approved by their respective
trade partnership programmes. A 2004 cooperation agreement forms the basis of customs relations between the EU and China. Under the agreement, the respective customs authorities undertake to develop their collaboration in all matters relating to the application of customs legislation. In September 2010, work began on a roadmap for the mutual recognition of the EU and China’s respective trade partnership programmes. This roadmap was approved in December 2010. Following a thorough comparison between the EU’s programme for approved economic operators and China’s classified management programme (the Measures on Classified Management of Enterprises programme), the two were considered compatible. In June 2012, it was agreed to open formal negotiations. Afterwards, in 2013, three rounds of negotiations took place with a view to formulating a draft decision on the mutual recognition of approved economic operators. The hope is that an EU-China agreement will be signed in the first half of 2014.

Source: Olof Erixon, The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and Swedish Customs