The European Commission has released its annual report on the worldwide implementation of EU trade agreements.
International trade is responsible for around 35% of the EU’s total annual gross domestic product; and more than 36 million jobs across all Member States are supported by the export of goods outside the bloc. The Commission’s report showed positive developments for both import and export agreements originating in the EU in 2018, with imports growing by 4.6% compared to last year and exports growing by 2%.
The EU’s Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, said: “Trade agreements create opportunities for European businesses to grow and hire more people. Today’s report shows that overall trade is up, and more of our global trade is covered by preferential deals than ever before. Our food and drink exports in particular are flourishing thanks to lower tariffs and legal protection abroad for artisanal EU products like Champagne and feta.”
The 2018 report shows particular growth in agrifood exports to the EU’s trade partners, with exports to Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine all growing by 11% compared to 2017’s exports; while exports of agrifood products to South Korea grew by 4.8%. 2018 marked the first full year of the EU’s comprehensive trade agreement with Canada; in that period bilateral goods trade between the EU and Canada grew by 10.3%, with exports of goods rising by 15%.
Commissioner Malmström added: “The report also provides evidence of how our focus on trade and sustainable development is bearing fruit. Furthermore, we have taken a number of unprecedented steps to enforce the commitments made by our trade partners in the last year, including notably on workers’ rights. There is still work to be done, of course. But by opening up this data to the wider public we hope to launch a wider discussion about how to make sure trade agreements benefit as many citizens as possible.”