Tánaiste Attends Meeting of EU Trade Ministers

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20 May 2021 The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment, Leo Varadkar, T.D., today attended a meeting of EU Trade Ministers in Brussels under the Portuguese Presidency of the EU.

The meeting discussed the European Union’s trade policy post pandemic, including the future relationship with the US. The new United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai and the new WTO DG, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attended for part of the meeting.

The Tánaiste said:

“Trade couldn’t be more important to Ireland, as a small, open economy. It is the source of our economic growth, the foundation of our economic model. It is what has consistently raised our living standards over decades and created hundreds of thousands of jobs for our citizens. The EU must remain fully open to global trade and investment opportunities as we recover and rebuild after the pandemic.

“We discussed how best to reforge the Atlantic alliance between Europe and the US, through trade and multilateralism, respecting our common values of fairness, openness and competition. It was good to speak with Ambassador Kai again following on from our recent meeting and I took the opportunity to welcome that the EU and US have agreed to work together to end the disputes on Airbus and Boeing and steel and aluminium. Tariffs have been suspended – a clear signal that both sides are open and willing to work seriously to resolve the matter.

“It was great to meet with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. I congratulated Dr. Ngozi again on her appointment, which Ireland and the EU supported and wished her well during her tenure. The pandemic has highlighted the need for countries to work more closely together in the areas of Trade and Health.

“I also stressed the need to commence the necessary negotiations to re-establish the effective functioning of the WTO’s key Dispute Settlement system, which is especially important for smaller and developing economies across the globe.”

The EU Presidency also updated Trade Ministers on the negotiations of the EU’s Proposal for an International Procurement Instrument, which is designed to enable the EU to tackle diminishing access to third country procurement markets. An Tánaiste confirmed Ireland’s support for the Proposal and our commitment to continuing to work constructively to bring the current negotiations of the Instrument to a successful conclusion.

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