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Report: EU trade agreements in place deliver tangible benefits

On November 9th, 2017 the Commission has published a report assessing the implementation of its existing trade agreements.

The objective of the report is to analyse the results of the implementation and enforcement,  in year 2016, of 25 EU trade agreements and to allow for future open discussion on possible improvements.  

The agreements are grouped in 4 categories depending on their scope and economic and political focus, consisting of FTAs negotiated after 2006 (“new generation FTAs”), older FTAs concluded before that date ("first generation" FTAs), Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) .

The specific indicators used to present the results refer to the increase in trade in goods and services, the use of tariff rate quotas (TRQ)  and the extent to which companies actually use the tariff reductions. The activities of the overseeing bodies of each agreement and, for the first time, the implementation of “Trade and Sustainable Development “ (TSD) provisions are also discussed in the report.   

Overall, EU trade agreements have led to significant growth in EU exports and had a tangible positive impact in creating new jobs for Europeans. In many instances, the gain in EU exports is in the sectors of machinery, transport equipment, agricultural products and in services. 

In the same time, the report identifies areas for improvement to increase the benefits of existing agreements, as for example the fact that EU producers do not yet take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the EU trade agreements. The Preferential Utilisation Rates, i.e. the extent to which businesses are using the tariff preferences in trade agreements, is lower on the EU side. EU exporters still pay duties on 30% of exports eligible for lower tariff when shipped to countries with whom the EU has already concluded new generation trade agreements, as compared with only 10% for  partners exporting to the EU. For some sensitive products, instead of full liberalisation, the EU and its partners agree on limited market openings through tariff-free allowances, known as Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs). The report shows that these possibilities are often underused by EU exporters. 

The report highlights an increasing need to raise awareness amongst EU companies – particularly small and medium-sized ones – about the opportunities that these deals offer, to expand their exports and grow their businesses.

The publication of this report, the first of its kind, is another step towards a fully transparent and inclusive trade policy, in line with the Commission's commitments set out in the EU's 2015 'Trade for All' strategy.

Please find here the report for a thorough reading .

More information on the report are also available on the website.

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