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Countries and regions Brussels, 10 September 2010

EU Trade Commissioner welcomes successful meeting of Trade Ministers

This page describes past events and is no longer updated.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht welcomed today’s first EU Trade Ministers meeting under the Lisbon Treaty. The ministers gave the Commission the green light to move ahead on free trade negotiations with Malaysia and on negotiations with China aiming to protect geographical indications.

"Today's meeting highlights the way trade policy can help the economic recovery", said Commissioner De Gucht. "I want to create new business opportunities for European companies in countries like Malaysia and by doing so, lower the costs for European business of international commerce."

The Ministers met in the setting of a Foreign Affairs Council. They authorised the Commission to:

  • Negotiate towards a Free Trade Agreement with Malaysia. The Commission, together with Malaysia, intends to formally launch these negotiations in October, possibly in the margins of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels.
  • Start negotiations with China on the protection of geographical indications for wines, spirits, agricultural products and foodstuffs. These negotiations are likely to start in the near future.

The Council also had the opportunity to discuss the state of finalisation of the EU- Korea Free Trade Agreement with the target of signing the agreement no later than the EU-Korea Summit (6th October). Furthermore Ministers debated Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) negotiated with developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Finally, the Commissioner took the opportunity to present to Ministers the Commission's proposal for the common international investment policy. He laid out how the new EU competence on foreign direct investment can be used to boost competitiveness and trade resulting in growth and jobs.

Background

The EU is negotiating trade agreements with a number of Asian partners. It has agreed a deal with South Korea, negotiations are under way with India and Singapore and the door is open to negotiate with other partners in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Malaysia is the EU's second individual trade partner in ASEAN (behind Singapore), with bilateral trade in goods reaching €23 billion in 2009. We exported €9 and imported €14 billion. From 2005 to 2009 EU export grew by 1.2% on average per year. Bilateral trade in commercial services reached around €4.5 billion in 2008. Although Malaysia has not been a major trading partner in services so far, opportunities have already been increasing due to its liberalisation policies and will even further advance with an FTA. In 2008 FDI outflows to Malaysia were €1.1 billion.

EU and China have a common interest in protecting their agricultural products with a geographical indication on each other's markets. After several years of administrative cooperation, the EU and China have now decided to negotiate an ambitious agreement intended to ensure the protection of European geographical indications in China and of Chinese geographical indications in the EU.

For further information
On EU-Malaysia trade
On the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement
On the EU's policy on Economic Partnership Agreements
On Commission's investment proposals

View extracts from the press conference