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EU/free trade agreements/economic policy

Published on April 5, 2013
Hearing of Mme Nicole Bricq, Minister of Foreign Trade, before the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee (excerpts)

Paris, March 26, 2013



As regards the agreement with the United States, yesterday I made public [the results of] the company consultation exercise, which was really successful – we received five times more responses than for the agreement with Japan, which shows the interest from French companies. Twenty NGOs also responded, and I’ll be having a meeting soon with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). We know that, on the whole, American trade unions are in favour of this agreement, but I’d like to hear the views of their European counterparts as well.

An agreement with the United States is certainly in our interest, but the high volume of trade with that country, accounting for 40% of world trade, demands special attention. This agreement will serve as a global reference point. So we’ve got to give the Commission a good mandate, one which is at once clear, specific and firm. Our red lines are known: the cultural exception and certain collective preferences – for example as regards hormone-treated beef and GMOs. We can certainly expect an agreement at the 14 June summit, as the Irish [EU] presidency wishes, but there is no reason to rush things. The discussion must start off on a sound footing with the United States, which still resorts to a great deal of protectionist measures. We must get non-tariff barriers lowered and an upward harmonization of regulations.

Due to the high volume of trade with the United States, this agreement could paradoxically lead to a revival of multilateralism. In order to counterbalance the Europe-US axis, many countries will indeed try and revitalize the WTO. (...)

The EU-US Free Trade Agreement was referred to the French Parliament on 19 March. The draft mandate was conveyed in accordance with Article 88-4 of the Constitution. So you know that you can look at the negotiation and give your views through motions for resolutions. (...)./.

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