Tag Archives: Trade

EU-UK to «work hard» to deliver agreement

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, on 15 June by videoconference to take stock of progress with the aim of agreeing actions to move forward in negotiations on the future relationship.

“The Parties noted the UK’s decision not to request any extension to the transition period. The transition period will therefore end on 31 December 2020, in line with the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, the reads the EU-UK Statement following the High Level Meeting on 15 June.

“The Parties welcomed the constructive discussions on the future relationship that had taken place under the leadership of Chief Negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier, allowing both sides to clarify and further understand positions. They noted that four rounds had been completed and texts exchanged despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Parties agreed nevertheless that new momentum was required. They supported the plans agreed by Chief Negotiators to intensify the talks in July and to create the most conducive conditions for concluding and ratifying a deal before the end of 2020. This should include, if possible, finding an early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement.

“The Parties underlined their intention to work hard to deliver a relationship, which would work in the interests of the citizens of the Union and of the United Kingdom. They also confirmed their commitment to the full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Barnier laments lack of progress

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has blamed the UK of “backtracking” on commitments on fisheries and other issues in post-Brexit trade talks towards the comprehensive agreement.
The EU civil servant regretted no “significant progress” had been made this week, and insisted the UK should “respect” rules agreed with the EU. He aslo suggested political will is needed to give a new momentum to current negociations, describled as largely in stalemate.

At present the UK and EU are are in dispute over competition rules, governance and fishing rights and police cooperation, and other issues.

“My responsibility is to speak to truth and, to tell the truth, this week there have been no significant areas of progress” Barner lamented.
“In all areas, the UK continues to backtrack under commitments undertaken in the political declaration, including on fisheries. We cannot and will not accept this backtracking on the political declaration” he added.

Barnier called for respect of the guidleins and objectives, enshrined for the political declaration, agreed by the UK and EU last year, which indicated objectives for a future relationship.

The UK sherpa David Frost said any Brexit deal would have to accomodate the UK’s well established position on a “level playing field”.

“We have just completed our fourth full negotiating round with the EU, again by video conference. It was a little shorter than usual and more restricted in scope. We continue to discuss the full range of issues, including the most difficult ones” he explained.

II round of EU-UK talks

Second round of negotiations on future EU/UK relations starts tomorrow. Michel Barnier and David Frost leading large delegations. Looking forward to progress across the board , in spite of COVID-19 -related logistical constraints #NewBeginnings” tweeted EU Ambassador to UK Joao Vale De Almeida.

We need real, tangible progress in the negotiations by June. We must advance across all areas” the EU top negotiator Michel Barnier wrote on his Twitter microblog,

Extending would simply prolong negotiations, create even more uncertainty, leave us liable to pay more to the EU in future, and keep us bound by evolving EU laws at a time when we need to control our own affairs. In short, it is not in the UK’s interest to extend” wrote David Frost on his Twitter.

Both top negotiators had suffered COVID-19. The UK envoy David Frost has followed his counterpart Michel Barnier into self-isolation after being touched by mild symptoms of coronavirus. However this personal situation will not change the general Brexit frame or transition, because the process has to be fulfilled by the 31 of December, which is enshrined in the British law,

EU-UK «ambitious partnership »

Michel Barnier (pictured) , the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator, sets out points of convergence and divergence following the first round of negotiations. Here is the translation from original in French:

“This new negotiation aims to build – or rebuild – an ambitious partnership, after Brexit, with this great friendly and ally country that is the United Kingdom.

We must rebuild everything, on new legal bases.

So we started this work in a serious and constructive way:

       with David Frost, who leads negotiations on the British side;

       and with the two negotiating teams.

These teams, exceptional by their size and their competence, are made up of experts representing:

       on the British side, the various ministries and departments concerned, and

       on the Union side, 22 Directorates General of the European Commission, the External Action Service, and the General Secretariat of the Council.

I would like to sincerely thank all of these people for their work, their professionalism and, above all, for the cordial and constructive spirit they have shown over the past few days.

And I would like to personally thank President Ursula von der Leyen and her cabinet for the trust and support they have shown me”.

EU-UK negotiation mandate adopted

The Council adopted a decision authorising the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the UK and formally nominating the Commission as the EU negotiator. The Council also adopted negotiating directives which constitute a mandate to the Commission for the negotiations.

The first formal meeting between the EU and UK negotiators is expected to take place in early March. EU ministers also discussed the next steps in the EU-UK relationship.

The Council adopted a decision giving the go-ahead to open negotiations on a new partnership with the UK. The Council also nominated the Commission as EU negotiator and adopted the negotiating directives which set the scope of the future partnership. This mandate covers areas such as trade, fisheries, foreign policy, security and defence, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

As a next step, the Commission will agree with the UK the dates for the first negotiating sessions.

The Council has adopted a clear and strong mandate for our negotiator, Michel Barnier. This confirms our readiness to offer an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced partnership to the UK for the benefit of both sides. The EU is now ready to start negotiations” said
Andreja Metelko-Zgombić, Croatian State Secretary for European Affairs.

Brexit happens in weeks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson won the decisive election victory that will end three years of political paralysis and take Britain out of the European Union within weeks.

The Article 50 procedure represents a substantial political and economic challenge for the United Kingdom after half a century of integration into the bloc (1973).

Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U.,” President Trump wrote on Twitter “Celebrate Boris!”

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1205368801438707713?s=21

Earlier this year President Trump has already expressed his wish to seal a trade with U.K., explaining that trade between the two countries “could be four to five times higher.”

Tense G7 opens in Biarritz

World leaders are gathering in Biarritz (France) for the G7 summit. Addressing the event the European Council President Donald Tusk said will be a “difficult test of unity and solidarity” due to deep divisions over a range of issues including trade and climate change.

The annual gathering of the G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) some of the world’s key industrial countries, open on August 24 in the French Atlantic resort of Biarritz.

The three-day summit is taking place against the backdrop of an escalating trade war between the US and China, Brexit, mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran over Iran nuclear programme and global concern over Amazon forest fires ravaging Brazil.

Thousands of different groups of protesters from all over the world rallied in the nearby town of Hendaye.

Siberia fires: illegal timber trade with China

Among major causes of devastating Sibera fires Duma Ecology committee chair Vladimir Bourmatov points at the activities of illegal lumberjacks, or “black loggers”. At present upon the request of the State Duma, the government and the Investigative committee of the Russian Federation, have launched the investigation into the occurrence of 500 epicenters of forest blaze as cause of illegal human activities. (Image above: Russian social networks).

The entire forest industry in Russia is in the “shadow” sector. A temporary timber export embargo has been suggested earlier this year. The statement was made by the chairwoman of the Federation Council (upper house of Russian parliament) Valentina Matvienko, requesting an imposition of embargo on the export of timber from Russia until rules are in place. She suggested to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to take measures without delay in February this year.

Matvienko explained the ways of illegal logging and illegal export abroad. The entire trade is oriented toward China as the largest importer of round timber in the world. Thus, massive deforestation is conducted under the pretext of sanitary protection of removing the diseased and rotting trees, instead the companies which are supposed to take care of the forests, are cutting down the best of spruces, pines and oaks and transporting them to China. The lucrative illegal trade is masked by ecological activities across the entire Siberia.

The forest fires in Siberia began almost a week ago, but because of the negligence of Russian officials, who were unwilling to take an action, the area of ignition has been steadily and rapidly increasing reaching an epic scale: more than three million hectares in flames, and smoke stretches for 700 km. At present it has already reached the coast of the USA and Canada, cities touched Vancouver and Seattle.

However the smoke from the blaze continues to stretch further: is now visible in Alaska. In total, three million hectares of forest burn in Siberia. It roughly reaches the size of Belgium.

Meteorology professor from Moscow State University, Alexander Kislov said that the burning particles can fly around the entire planet from west to east, following the movement of Earth in space.

Under wave of international criticism Roscosmos Corporation revealed the gravity of the situation publishing the images of fires swiftly spreading along territories of Russian Federation in the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Republic of Sakha, Buryatia, the Irkutsk Region, the Krasnoyarsk and Khabarovsk Territories.

After the situation caused grave international concern, Russian authorities started to act under direct orders of President Putin, who sent army to resolve the ecological crisis.

At present more than 2.8 million hectares of forest are consumed by blaze, withe the largest area in fire is in Yakutia, where 1.1 million hectares of forest are in flames, in the Krasnoyarsk Territory the flames spread to more than one million hectares, and in the Irkutsk Region – 700 thousand hectares.

This week only 2.700 people, 390 units of ground equipment and 28 aircraft take part in extinguishing on the territory in flames equal to Belgium. The Siberians claim the response in not relevant to the scale of drama.

Among the other causes of Siberia fires Bourmatov names the inefficient and insufficient measures of prevention.

President Trump spoke with President Putin on July 31, and offered U.S. help in fighting according to a Kremlin account of the call.

Putin, in response, expressed his “sincere gratitude” to Trump and said that if necessary, he will accept the offer, the Kremlin said.

Putin, has called in the army to fight the forest fires, enveloping entire Siberian cities in black smoke for weeks. The local authorities has been explaining to population that measures against forest fires are not “economically viable“. They added that rains will stop the advancement of blaze, while meteo scientists clarified that hot air raising from fires prevents formation of clouds. There are no natural heavy rainfall expected until mid-September.

 

Merkel wishes Brexit on “good terms”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said  she wanted the UK and the European Union to part on good terms.

I care now that we and Britain divorce in a good process so that afterwards we can still work closely together in the areas where we must cooperate – on defense, on domestic security, on policing, on combating terrorism, and in trade too, and so that Britain can take part in our research projects if they want,Merkel said.

EU-Japan ‘strategic partners’ era

From December 2018 to February 2019 EU-Japan relations are set to receive a major lift with the signing of a new trade agreement and a strategic partnership.

Although EU and Japan already enjoy good relations, they have agreed to upgrade their partnership against a background of increasing international tensions and protectionism.

The proposed trade agreement will make it easier for European companies to export to Japan, while a planned strategic partnership will boost cooperation on common challenges such as security and the environment.

 

The European Parliament endorsed both proposals of the Commission during the December plenary. The Council will also have to approve both agreements before they can enter into force.

EU companies export more than €58 billion worth of goods and €28 billion in services to Japan a year, but the trade agreement will boost this even further by removing remaining barriers to trade. This includes eliminating 90% of tariffs on more than 90% of the EU’s exports to Japan. This is expected to save EU exporters about €1 billion in customs duties a year. In addition, Japan will recognise the special status of more than 200 European agricultural products from specific regions, known as Geographical Indications. Measures will also be taken to lower non-tariff barriers, for example by relying on international standards rather than specific Japanese requirements.

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement sends a timely signal in support of open, fair, values- and rules-based trade at a time of increasing protectionism and an erratic trade policy by US President Donald Trump. This agreement also represents an opportunity for the European Union (EU) in the Asia-Pacific, especially since the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional free trade agreement, and helps promote EU values and high standards in the region.”  MEP Pedro SILVA PEREIRA a Portuguese member of the S&D group, said the agreement was being concluded at an important time:

“This agreement will foster not only closer bilateral economic ties, but also concrete cooperation on sustainable development like the fight against climate change. The agreement can, in addition, enhance coordination on multilateral issues with Japan and help shape rules for the global economy in line with our high standards and shared values of respect for human rights, democracy and the rules of law” the MEP added.

MEPs said they saw the agreements as possible models for cooperation with other countries.

It is the first EU trade agreement with a commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change and with dedicated chapters on corporate governance and small and medium-sized enterprises. The agreement also upholds the EU’s high standards on environmental protection, consumer protection, food safety and labour rights, protects public services and respects the right to regulate
Silva Perreira said.

The two agreements have been possible because the EU and Japan are like-minded partners with shared values of democracy and a common vision for global trade and cooperation… high standards and the readiness to address current global challenges should be the cornerstone of future cooperation agreements” MEP Alojz
Peterle said.

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