Opinion Factsheet  

Implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs): The regional and local perspective

Opinion Number: CDR 4764/2019
Rapporteur: MURPHY Michael
Commission: ECON
Status: Adopted
Date: 02/07/2020
Highlight the challenges SMEs face in utilising the growh opportunities of FTAs.
Put forward concrete proposals on whant needs to be done to increase the uptake of FTAs by SMEs.
Bring up the vital role local and regional authorities play in translating FTAs to SMEs due to their knowledge of and proximity to SMEs on the ground.
Stress the strong regional dimension of FTAs, since thier impact in the EU is felt at regional level and despite the overall economic growth triggered by FTAs, there are some economic sectors, along with the regions hosting them, which are likely to be negatively affected.
Highlight the key role of cohesion policy in enhancing regional competitiveness and help all regions reap the benefits of international trade.
Repeat its lognstanding position that territorial impact assessments can be powerful tools to identify and quantify the possible asymmetric impacts of trade deals on European regions early on.
Express the CoR position on global challenges such as WTO reform, distorted competition caused by foreign subsidies, the role of trade in sustainable development, the link between the Green Deal and trade policy.



Making EU Trade Agreements work to the benefit of businesses and regions

EU trade agreements with third countries cover more than 70 markets over the world and offer new opportunities for EU companies, including SMEs. Almost 36 million jobs depend on EU exports, of which at least 6 million have been created directly by exporting SMEs. Europe, more than most other world regions, depends on access to foreign markets for its prosperity, and this trend will only increase further: 90% of world growth will be generated outside the EU by 2020.

The growth opportunities opened with those trade agreements will not fully materialize without their full implementation. Despite recent noteworthy improvements in getting the benefits of trade agreements to our European businesses, the interplay between the relevant actors still needs to be further strengthened. Still too many European businesses are not aware of the EU trade agreements, and are not sufficiently well instructed how to use them in practice.

Chambers of commerce and regional authorities are essential elements to improving implementation across the EU as they are closest to local businesses and able to provide information relevant to the regional characteristics.

The workshop will be an opportunity to look into what hurdles are encountered in the member states, regions, and among the SME community in relation to implementation of FTAs and the challenges for a more effective implementation. In light of the announced focus of the upcoming Commission on improving implementation of trade agreements, the workshop will also look into the role that each level of government could play in that regard. After the presentation of the main findings of the CoR - EUROCHAMBRES survey on the implementation of FTAs and the EPRS analysis on Implementation of CETA, a panel debate will focus on the possible avenues for improving the uptake of existing EU trade agreements by SMEs in all EU member states and regions and thus for making trade and globalisation work as an engine for sustainable growth, employment and industrial renewal.

18 Nov
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