Despite the difficult global economic climate, European companies continued to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the European Union`s trading network, the largest in the world. In 2018, this network covered 31% of European trading exchanges, a figure that will increase significantly (to almost 40%). if more trade agreements come into force, as shown in the European Commission`s annual report on the implementation of trade agreements published today. In total, trade accounts for 35% of the EU`s gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, several partner countries have removed trade barriers after intense discussions in joint committees established under the various trade agreements, allowing more EU companies to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by these agreements. For example, Danish and Dutch farmers will be able to export beef to South Korea, while Poland and Spain will be able to export poultry meat to South Africa. In 2018, EU exports and imports from trading partners were positive, with sustained growth of 2% and 4.6%, with strong growth in agri-food exports in the EU. The growing network of trade agreements within the EU creates economic opportunities for workers across Europe, with more than 36 million jobs supported by exports abroad. The EU recorded a surplus of EUR 84.6 billion in merchandise trade with its trading partners, compared with an overall trade deficit of some EUR 24.6 billion with the rest of the world. European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said: “Trade agreements create opportunities for European companies to grow and hire more people.
Today`s report shows that global trade is increasing and that much of our world trade is covered by preferential agreements more than ever. In particular, our food and beverage exports are flourishing for EU handicrafts such as champagne and feta, thanks to lower tariffs and legal protection measures abroad. The report also shows how our focus on trade and sustainable development is paying off. In addition, we have taken a number of unprecedented steps to enforce the commitments made by our trading partners last year, including on workers` rights. Of course, there is still a long way to go. But by opening this data to the general public, we hope to launch a wider debate on how to ensure that trade agreements benefit as many citizens as possible. If you look at it, for example, one of the latest trade agreements, the report shows that in the first full calendar year (2018) the implementation of the EU-Canada trade agreement, the report nevertheless stresses the need to redouble efforts with Member States and stakeholders to raise awareness among Member States and stakeholders of the opportunities offered by trade agreements and to strengthen enforcement measures to ensure that agreements deliver the desired results. Currently, the EU has the largest trade network in the world, with 41 trade agreements in 72 countries. In 2018 and 2019, the EU has also taken several enforcement measures under its trade agreements, including on labour standards.