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United States | Georgetown University, 7 March 2019

Malmström calls for renewed transatlantic cooperation on trade

At a speech today at Georgetown Law School EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström appealed to the US not to stray from the international trade order and instead work with Europe to face the challenges of the modern global economy, including China. Updating the World Trade Organisation (WTO) should be at the heart of this rejuvenated reform effort, she argued


She said: “The international system as we know it today was built at a special moment. It was built on a US vision. A victory of hope over experience. A generation of Americans and Europeans – tested in modern history’s most brutal conflict – took up the burdens of global leadership… The world has changed a lot since then. Things have gotten better in many ways. Multilateralism has underpinned global growth for decades, and lifted millions out of poverty. Globalisation has fundamentally changed how the world economy works. And we live in one of the more peaceful periods of world history – in Europe in particular.”


On China, she said: “A core concern of the past decades is our response to China… I have no problem with competition. It drives on innovation and drives down costs for consumers. It is a good thing, but only if it is fair. We play by a set of rules – and China has been taking advantage of that… These impacts are felt at home and abroad. They range from overcapacity to unfair competition. They are at the centre of many of the challenges today in the global economy and should be at the centre of any solution too.”

Turning to the current WTO crisis, Commissioner Malmström added: “The US and the EU agree that the WTO needs reform and updating. These updates need to be anchored in stronger rules, rules fit for purpose for this century, anchored in issues like industrial subsidies and forced technology transfer. Both the EU and the US have published proposals and ideas on reform. This is good. We agree on the diagnosis. If we can effectively reform and update the WTO, we can set the rules of globalisation. We are glad to see this. We hope that the US leads the way in global institution building again.”

To conclude, she said: “Now I propose that we embark on a new project together. The next transatlantic project – one that will guarantee stability and prosperity for the next generation. One that will establish our alliance and our values as a force to be reckoned with for another 70 years. I propose that we renew our global order for the 21st century – with the WTO at the centre of the transatlantic partnership on trade.”


On Wednesday 6 March Commissioner Malmström met with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for the fifth meeting of the Executive Working Group set up by Presidents Juncker and Trump in their joint statement of July 2018.

Today she will meet with members of the Trade Policy Forum, a Washington DC-based group of women working in international trade, ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Full speech at Georgetown University