On 20-21 September 2020, in Berlin, Germany, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, took part in an informal meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council (Trade). It focused on challenges to the European steel industry, the steps in the process for selection of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General, and an overview of the EU’s trade policy.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica stressed in the discussion that focus should be retained on diversification of import and export markets. “SMEs are at the heart of the European economy, so they should be central to our trade policy,” the Parliamentary Secretary noted.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only factor threatening the security of our supply chains," Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined. "The greatest threat is the reliance on a single supplier or one region; therefore, we need to give our businesses the possibility to diversify their supply chains and to encourage them to do it."
In a discussion on the priorities for the EU’s trade policy, the Parliamentary Secretary underlined the need for getting together and signing new free trade agreements and making a better use of the existing opportunities.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica noted the need for a modern, strong and reformed WTO. Here the EU needs to lead the way and engage with our like-minded partners to create a robust and reinvigorated multilateral trade system, she said.
The participants of the informal meeting also gave attention to the questions related to selecting a new WTO Director-General. On 18 September, it was announced that the representatives of Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom should advance to the next stage of the selection process.
It is important that the post goes to a candidate with an excellent crisis management skillset and a clear vision of how to reform the WTO, the Parliamentary Secretary said.
During the meeting, the ministers, together with the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission and Acting Trade Commissioner, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, discussed latest developments in Europe’s steel sector.
This past June, the European Commission launched a review of the EU’s trade policy. Two key objectives are driving this process: to assess how trade policy can contribute to a swift economic recovery and how it can help build a stronger EU.
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