Preferential Trade updates April 2024

April 25, 2024

Colombia signs trade agreement with UAE

The pact aims to enhance bilateral trade flows by cutting tariffs, removing barriers and improving market access for both merchandise and service exports. It will also open pathways for investment and joint ventures in sectors such as energy, environment, hospitality, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture and food production. UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his Colombian counterpart Gustavo Petro witnessed the signing of the agreement by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and German Umaña, Colombia's Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. The agreement follows an impressive increase in bilateral non-oil trade, which climbed 43 per cent to reach an all-time high of $53.1 million in 2023 – more than double the total achieved in 2021. Similar agreements with India, Israel, Indonesia, Turkey and Cambodia are now in full operation and are already making a significant contribution to the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade, which reached a record AED 2.6 trillion (AED 3.5 trillion including trade in services) in 2023.

EU and the Philippines announce resumption of negotiations for a free trade agreement

The EU and the Philippines officially announced the resumption of negotiations for an ambitious, modern and balanced free trade agreement (FTA) – with sustainability at its core. Trade agreements such as these are a cornerstone of the EU's economic security, opening new opportunities for businesses and consumers, strengthening supply chains and promoting sustainable trade practices. An FTA with the Philippines, a booming economy of 115 million people in the heart of the strategically important Indo-Pacific region, would therefore be a valuable addition to the EU's network of trade deals. The EU aims for a comprehensive FTA with the Philippines that includes ambitious market access for goods, services, investment and government procurement; the removal of obstacles to digital trade and trade in energy and raw materials, thereby supporting the digital and green transitions; swift and effective sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) procedures; sustainable food systems (SFS); the protection of intellectual property rights including Geographical Indications (GIs) and robust and enforceable disciplines on trade and sustainable development (TSD) – in line with the Commission's TSD review Communication of June 2022, supporting high levels of protection for workers' rights, the environment, and the achievement of ambitious climate goals.

EU Commission reports on thirteenth negotiation round with five Eastern and Southern African countries to deepen existing EPA

The European Commission has published a report summarising progress made during the latest negotiation round to deepen the existing Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with five Eastern and Southern African partners. As part of its transparency commitments, the Commission has published the report summarising progress made during the latest negotiation round to deepen the existing Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with five Eastern and Southern African partners (ESA5): Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe.

The 13th negotiation round took place in Moroni, Comoros, from 18-22 March 2024.
This round included discussions at technical level on all open thematic parts covered by these negotiations. It allowed for the provisional conclusion of the 'Fisheries and Aquaculture’ and ‘Technical Barriers to Trade’ chapters (the fourth and fifth ones in this process), the quasi-conclusion of three additional chapters (‘Customs and Trade Facilitation’, ‘Competition’ and ‘Transparency in Public Procurement’) for which compromise proposals were exchanged, and for substantive progress to be made on other topics.
A date for the 14th round of EU-ESA5 negotiations is subject to each party’s assessment of the progress achieved.

EU and international partners agree to expand cooperation on critical raw materials

The EU, the US, and other Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) partners, joined by Kazakhstan, Namibia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, announced the launch of the Minerals Security Partnership Forum (or “MSP Forum”). The forum will serve as a new platform for cooperation in the area of critical raw materials (CRMs) vital for the global green and digital transitions. The Critical Raw Materials Club announced by the European Commission now becomes a full part of the MSP Forum. This will create a greater, more ambitious joint initiative linked to the Minerals Security Partnership, where the European Commission represents the EU. The Forum will bring together resource-rich countries and countries with high demand for these resources. The work of the MSP Forum will be developed around two strands:

  • a project group focused on supporting and accelerating the implementation of sustainable critical minerals projects;
  • a policy dialogue that will identify policies for boosting sustainable production and local capacities, facilitate regulatory cooperation to foster fair competition, transparency and predictability, and promote high environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards in CRM supply chains.

Membership of the MSP Forum will be open to partners who are ready to commit to the key MSP principles, including diversification of global supply chains and high environmental standards, good governance and fair working conditions. In a sign of strong transatlantic cooperation, the EU and the United States will co-lead the new forum.

  • Next steps:

The EU and US, together with current MSP partners, are reaching out to prospective members in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe, to expand the participation in the Forum and start working within the project and policy dialogue groups.

EU establishes strategic partnership with Uzbekistan on critical raw materials

The EU and Uzbekistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) launching a strategic partnership on critical raw materials (CRMs). This important agreement marks a significant step towards securing a diversified and sustainable supply of CRMs for the green and digital transitions both in the EU and Uzbekistan.  The MoU signed by European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Uzbekistan's Minister of Investment, Industry and Trade Laziz Kudratov underscored the partners' shared commitment to enhance cooperation in the field of CRMs. This strategic partnership focuses on the following areas of cooperation:

  • Integration of sustainable CRM value chains, including via networking, selection of project proposals, joint development of projects, promotion and facilitation of trade, and investment linkages along the whole value chain;
  • Increasing the resilience of CRM supply chains and establishing a dialogue to enhance the transparency of measures related to investments, operations and exports;
  • Mobilisation of funding for projects resulting from the Partnership, as well as for the development of infrastructure required for the development of CRM value chains such as, but not limited to, the development of clean energy supply;
  • Cooperation to achieve sustainable and responsible production and sourcing of CRMs;
  • Cooperation on research and innovation, including the sharing of knowledge and technologies related to sustainable exploration, extraction, processing and recycling of CRMs;
  • Cooperation on building of capacity to enforce relevant rules, and on developing training and skills.

Next steps
Following the signature of the MoU, the EU and Uzbekistan will jointly work on the establishment of an operational roadmap with concrete implementation actions.

India - EU FTA next round to start in early May

The eighth round of negotiations for the India-European Union free trade agreement (FTA) are slated to start next month, with India making changes to its negotiating team to speed up the process. While both sides have indicated a willingness to adjust their positions on certain contentious issues, India intends to take a firm stance on persistent challenges such as non-tariff barriers. These obstacles significantly hinder trade progress in sectors including agricultural commodities, pharmaceutical items, engineering goods, and electrical items, the persons mentioned above said. Other key issues include India’s trade disputes at the World Trade Organization regarding products like mobile phones and components, as well as integrated circuits and optical instruments. India is also advocating labour-intensive textiles and apparel products to be classified as non-tariff items. EU nations impose higher import duties, typically 10-12%, on textile products, placing India at a disadvantage compared to China, the EU’s leading supplier of apparel and textiles.

Meanwhile, the EU is aiming to bargain hard to gain access to India’s services and public procurement markets, ensure the protection of geographical indications, and uphold its ambitious commitments on trade and sustainable development. These commitments include imposing maximum residue level (MRL) limits on agricultural products. The EU’s proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR) are expected to impede around 8-10% of Indian agricultural, steel, and aluminum exports to the bloc.

India-Peru 8th round of Trade Agreement talks likely in June 2024

The next round of negotiations for the India-Peru Trade Agreement is expected in June, 2024 and will be preceded by intersessional negotiations over video conferences to ensure that outstanding issues are resolved before the two parties meet again. India and Peru recently concluded the seventh round of talks for a proposed free trade agreement that took place in New Delhi, India from April 8 to April 11, 2024, according to an official release on April 11. This round of negotiations included discussions on chapters pertaining to trade in goods and services, movement of natural persons, Rules of Origin, custom procedures, dispute settlement and cooperation, among others. Around sixty delegates together from both sides participated in the talks. The sixth round of talks for the proposed trade agreement between the two nations was held from February 12 to 14, 2024, in Lima, Peru, to continue the work that started in 2017 when the negotiation process was formally announced. Peru has emerged as India’s third-largest trading partner in Latin American and Caribbean Region. In the last two decades, trade between the two nations increased from $66 million in 2003 to around $ 3.68 billion in 2023.

Among the top-10 commodities that India exports to Peru are motor vehicles, cars, products of iron and steel, cotton yarn and fabrics. While the imports include bulk minerals and ores, gold, fertilizers, crude oil and zinc. India has been negotiating a slew of free trade agreements with a bunch of nations and groupings including UK, Oman and the European Union.

South Korea and Georgia kick off new round of trade talks

South Korea and Georgia kicked off another round of talks for a comprehensive economic partnership on trade and supply chains. The two nations began a three-day session to discuss the envisioned Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Seoul, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. An EPA is meant to establish a mutually beneficial trade network with partner nations beyond a simple market opening, though it covers a smaller scope of areas compared with a traditional free trade agreement. The two countries are expected to discuss details in areas, including goods and services, the ministry added. Korea has been seeking to establish closer ties with Georgia, which is considered a key trade hub bridging Asia and Europe, with significant growth potential in supply chain and logistics.

UK update on use of 'EU cumulation' clause and origin quotas in trade with Canada

In the UK-Canada Trade Continuity Agreement (TCA) , the UK and Canada agreed time-limited clauses for ‘EU cumulation’ and origin quotas. On EU cumulation, this has meant that up until now, UK traders have been able to count EU inputs as if they were originating in their exports to Canada. On origin quotas, several textile and apparel lines have been eligible for alternative rules, within the limits of an applicable annual quota. From 1 April 2024, UK exporters cannot consider EU inputs as originating when exporting to Canada.

EU-New Zealand free trade agreement

On 25 March 2024, the Commission published the FTA, which will enter into force on 1 May 2024. Link

EU and Moldova extend Road Transport Agreement until 31 December 2025

The EU and Moldova decided today to extend the validity of their current road transport Agreement until 31 December 2025. The Agreement aims at helping Moldova access world markets by facilitating transit through EU countries and also further developing its links with the EU market. This agreement with Moldova, first signed on 29 June 2022, has substantially increased exports by road from Moldova to the EU, to the benefit of both economies. It was put in place following the loss of important transport routes passing through Ukraine's Black Sea ports and export markets to the east of Ukraine caused by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. By partly liberalising road freight transport through giving transit and bilateral transport rights to Moldovan and EU hauliers for their respective territories, the Agreement helps better anchoring the Moldovan market into the EU. The Agreement has also strengthened the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes, by facilitating road transport between the EU and Moldova, which is an important country of transit for Ukrainian exports and imports.


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