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Goods and services | Brussels, 21 March 2019

Speech: Championing a fair game for agri-food trade

At a speech today at CELCAA, the European Liaison Committee for Agricultural and Agri-food Trade, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström spoke about how recently agreed trade agreements have benefitted EU agri-food exporters.

She said: “Canada, Japan, Ecuador, countries of the Southern African region, SADC, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico. We have closed deals with all of them. We are close with some others like Chile, Mercosur, Tunisia and Indonesia. And starting new ones, like New Zealand and Australia. These are great successes and are well advanced. There are many economic benefits – we are opening up new markets for you.”

“Agri-food trade is growing – and the EU’s trade agreements are contributing to its success. Agricultural products are very popular with our partners. There is growing demand for EU food and wine. Our agreements cover a third of total EU agri-food exports and more than 40% of imports. We have been improving the terms too – because the agreements we are negotiating now are not the same old business,” she added.

She then spoke about the importance of trade agreements for European businesses of all sizes. 99% of all businesses in Europe are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and they have created 85% of new jobs in the EU in the past five years. The EU-Japan Economic Partnership – the biggest trade agreement the EU has ever signed – has a specific chapter to help smaller companies.

Malmström said: “In [the EU-Japan deal] we commit the EU and Japan to: provide SMEs with information online on how to access markets; set up dedicated "Small Business Contact Points"; and acknowledges the importance of SME access to global trade. In this way we open up trade and spread the benefits of globalisation. This shows people that trade can work for them, and helps make the case for open global trade. We now include this type of chapter in all our negotiations.”

Finally, she turned to the current context: “Each [trade] agreement is about more than economics too. They are strategic alliances for open trade. They bring together countries with similar values, to support each other in prosperity. This is particularly important, as we are operating in a difficult global environment. With our trade agreements we are creating a circle of friends with whom we the defend the multilateral system.”

Read the speech