The Secretary of State for Trade, Xiana Méndez, and the Director of Multilateral Affairs, Strategy, Analysis and Evaluation of the European Commission, Ignacio García Bercero, spoke today in a virtual meeting on the review of the trade and investment policy of the Union European. The conference was opened, moderated by the general director of Trade Policy, Juan Francisco Martínez, the president of CEOE Internacional, Marta Blanco; the general director of the Chamber of Commerce, Inmaculada Riera; and the head of the European Commission Representation in Spain, Francisco Fonseca.
At the event, organized jointly by the Secretary of State for Commerce, through ICEX Spain Export and Investments, CEOE and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the Representation of the European Commission in Spain, the lines were announced European Commission teachers on the review of EU trade and investment policy. This review, which began with a consultation process open until September 15, seeks, among other objectives, to analyze how trade policy can contribute to the socio-economic recovery after the Covid-19 crisis, as well as to identify how it can favor the construction of a stronger Union, based on a model of "open strategic autonomy".
The president of CEOE Internacional, Marta Blanco, highlighted that the debate on the revision of the trade and investment policy of the European Union was very necessary, and from CEOE “we participate very actively through our European employers' association BusinessEurope, but also in a directly through our own response and in a consensual manner with the other institutions ”. This rigorous consultation, he said, encourages dialogue within organizations and companies. In this sense, Blanco stressed, a very strong European Union is needed to respond to the needs of companies and a common commercial policy is required that is based on international cooperation, strategic alliances and that opens opportunities in third markets without being at a competitive disadvantage. For this, he assured, it is important to defend a solid multilateral system with clear rules, and to have a trade policy that has the necessary tools to be better understood by civil society.
The general director of the Chamber of Spain, Inmaculada Riera, referred to the current role of the EU in a context of a general drop in demand from international markets and a sharp reduction in investment flows given the uncertainty of the health crisis of the COVID-19. "The EU has an important role to play, not only in support of our companies and the economy of the countries that make it up, but also as a world benchmark in the defense of values such as trade openness, multilateralism or integration. and international cooperation, to face the emergence of blocs, the rise of protectionism and address the necessary modernization of a WTO in crisis, "he said.
Francisco Fonseca Morillo, director of the European Commission Representation in Spain, highlighted the opportunities offered by recent EU trade agreements with third countries for Spanish companies, with Singapore (in force since November 2019) and with Vietnam (in in force since August 2020), as well as those pending ratification, such as Mexico and Mercosur. He also highlighted that international trade is widely supported by Spanish society: in a recent survey at European level, 60% of Spaniards confirmed that international trade benefits them personally (percentage that rises to 78% among young people aged 15 to 39 years).
Open strategic autonomy
The Secretary of State for Trade, Xiana Méndez, highlighted that the review of the EU's trade policy aims to achieve an appropriate balance between an open economy and protection of companies against unfair practices or lack of equal conditions. The new trade policy, he added, should contribute to recovery and greater sustainability. This will be carried out through a model based on the concept of "open strategic autonomy", he reported.
In this regard, he stressed that one of the pillars of the new strategy will be to improve equality of conditions and protect companies and citizens of the European Union, so that the opening of the EU markets is not harmed by the unfair behavior or anti-competitive business practices of third countries.
Ignacio García Bercero, Director of Multilateral Affairs, Strategy, Analysis and Evaluation of the DG Trade of the European Commission, insisted that multilateralism and global value chains are essential to face this economic crisis derived from the COVID-pandemic. 19. In fact, he stressed, it is already being seen that companies with greater internationalization are recovering, in general, much faster.
In this context, he encouraged those present to participate in the public consultation, which is open until September 15 (a period that may be extended), for the review of European trade policy. Under a model of “open strategic autonomy”, the Commission considered that the EU should strengthen its capacity to defend its interests independently and assertively, but never in an isolated or protectionist manner. That is, he continued, that it must collaborate with all partners worldwide to find global solutions and promote sustainable international trade based on compliance with clear rules. At the same time, Bercero insisted that the EU has to defend itself even better against the unfair practices of some, such as illegitimate state aid or non-reciprocity in access to public purchases.