The EU is the largest single market and the largest economy in the world. It represents 16.5% of all imports and exports. Free trade among its member States is one of the pillars of the EU agenda, which is focused on
liberalizing trade according to rules set within the framework of the World Trade Organization, WTO.
Trade policy is an exclusive EU competence: the Commission engages in negotiations on behalf of the Union to accomplish trade agreements which can promote growth and employment in Europe, opening new markets with the rest of the world and integrating trade and development. This is especially true for agreements with Countries with more modest income and wealth levels.
On 13 September, 2017 the Commission unveiled a package of trade measures, which marked a major step in relaunching the EU as a global actor, committed to protecting its own interests and promoting its own values. The European agenda rests, from the 'offensive' point of view, on the so called "latest generation" liberalization agreements, which go beyond tariff cuts to offer platforms that are designed to deal with governance, labour rules and the protection of the environment, always in line with sustainability. A strategic review of "EU only" agreements for matters of exclusive competence of the EU is underway, following the issuing of a ruling by the Court of Justice in May 2017 over the agreement with Singapore.
The European Union is also concerned with strengthening defence tools to handle globalization and spread its benefits in the world in a fair and equitable way. Therefore a priority role is played by a proposal of a new system of a more transparent multilateral investment court, and a legislative proposal for a European framework to screen foreign direct investment with a view to protecting the EU's essential interests. As regards commercial defence, it is worth to note the approval of a new antidumping calculation methodology and the overall modernisation of trade defence instrument rules, which envisages more transparency, especially as regards provisional duties. More support to SMEs is also a pressing issue.
The EU agenda is about to finalize other dossiers such as Free Trade Agreements with Australia and New Zealand, the conclusion of negotiations with MERCOSUR member countries, a Partnership Agreement with Japan (which is expected to be signed on 11 July 2018 during the incoming EU-Japan Summit) and the Free Trade Agreements with ASEAN countries, with a special focus on the agreements with Singapore, which is likely to be signed in October on the occasion of the incoming ASEAN Summit ,and with Vietnam. Moreover a political agreement was reached regarding the conclusion of negotiations for the modernization of the trade pillar of the EU-Mexico global agreement, while negotiations to modernize the existing EU- Chile Association Agreement are still under way.
As regards the main trade agreements signed by the EU, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada, of the one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Brussels on 30 October 2016, was provisionally applied as from 21 September 2017. The Agreement, which was signed on 30 October 2016, calls for the broadest ever liberalization of tariff lines in the history of EU trade negotiations (99%),and also for an innovative system to settle disputes over investment issues.
The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement entered into force on 13 December 2015. Its implementation is progressing in a very positive way for the European Union , and especially for Italy. Thank to this FTA, Italy has recorded an overall increase in its exports to the Asian country, with excellent results four our key sectors.