The modernisation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the state of play of on-going trade agreement negotiations were among the main issues discussed during the Foreign Affairs Council on Trade held in Brussels and attended by Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses, Dr Chris Cardona.

The Council meeting featured constructive discussions as the Commission provided insight on the Ottowa Ministerial meeting held during 24-25 October 2018. The discussions noted the importance of achieving a concrete strategy on WTO reform despite the difficulties lying ahead. The EU is facing a challenging trade policy environment within WTO, following the United States’ issue with the judicial organ of the WTO and particularly with the rise in protectionism which negatively affect the WTO and put the entire multilateral trading system at risk.

Malta believes that preserving a strong rules-based multilateral trading system and the WTO as its foundation is the main priority for the EU trade policy. The EU should continue to pursue its role as a leader in order to safeguard global economic stability against protectionist tendencies and unfair trade practices, stated Minister Cardona.

With regards to the state of play on ongoing Free Trade Agreements, Minister Cardona noted that Malta has and continues to support an ambitious bilateral EU trade agenda and considers this as an important and positive element in a global trade environment that is becoming ever more uncertain. During the discussions, Minister Cardona remarked how the EU should always keep international trade high in its list of priorities. Our narrative should seek to express the overall benefits of trade as not only a source for growth and creation of new job opportunities but also as the root of economic dynamism through external competitive pressures.

Ministers welcomed the progress achieved in the ongoing negotiations with Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Mercosur, Indonesia and Tunisia. In this context, all Member States agreed that they would like to see more progress being made that would ultimately ensure a satisfactory outcome from these negotiations as an agreement would open new and significant opportunities for EU businesses.

Source: Government of Malta