International trade policy

29-07-2020

The coronavirus pandemic caused a significant collapse in international trade in the first half of 2020. Trade accounts for a higher proportion of the EU economy than that of the United States of America (US) or China, which can make the EU's economic model more vulnerable to import and export disruptions. In recent years, the multilateral liberal trading order has already been facing unprecedented turbulence. The rise of protectionism and zero-sum thinking, trade wars and the blockage within the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body have been severely undermining the basis on which trade had been conducted in recent decades. At the same time, the European Commission remains committed to the promotion of free and fair trade. Thus the five main priorities for EU trade policy after coronavirus will be economic recovery, re-establishing a positive transatlantic relationship, levelling the playing field with China, negotiating a fair new trade relationship with the United Kingdom, and improving enforcement and implementation of the EU's trade agreements with 76 countries around the world. Each of these priorities will need to be balanced against the requirements of the WTO, a comprehensive regulatory approach to digital trade and mainstreaming of sustainability objectives into trade policy. Creative solutions, such as instruments to tackle foreign subsidies and the WTO pharmaceutical agreement can also help Europe to navigate the new geo-economic and post-coronavirus era of global trade successfully.

The coronavirus pandemic caused a significant collapse in international trade in the first half of 2020. Trade accounts for a higher proportion of the EU economy than that of the United States of America (US) or China, which can make the EU's economic model more vulnerable to import and export disruptions. In recent years, the multilateral liberal trading order has already been facing unprecedented turbulence. The rise of protectionism and zero-sum thinking, trade wars and the blockage within the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body have been severely undermining the basis on which trade had been conducted in recent decades. At the same time, the European Commission remains committed to the promotion of free and fair trade. Thus the five main priorities for EU trade policy after coronavirus will be economic recovery, re-establishing a positive transatlantic relationship, levelling the playing field with China, negotiating a fair new trade relationship with the United Kingdom, and improving enforcement and implementation of the EU's trade agreements with 76 countries around the world. Each of these priorities will need to be balanced against the requirements of the WTO, a comprehensive regulatory approach to digital trade and mainstreaming of sustainability objectives into trade policy. Creative solutions, such as instruments to tackle foreign subsidies and the WTO pharmaceutical agreement can also help Europe to navigate the new geo-economic and post-coronavirus era of global trade successfully.