Promoting free trade under WTO remains priority for EU: official

Saturday, 2019-02-23 14:46:26
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Promoting free trade under the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains a priority for the European Union (EU), Romanian Trade Minister Stefan-Radu Oprea said on February 22.

Trade ministers of EU member states, as well as the European Commissioner for Trade all agreed that the promotion of free trade under the auspices of the WTO remains a priority for the Union, Oprea told a joint press conference with Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commissioner for Trade, after a two-day EU informal meeting on trade.

According to him, the resolution of the crisis within the appeal body of the WTO is an essential aspect of this process.

In her turn, Malmstrom believed that "quick action is needed" to prevent the WTO from falling apart.

"Member states strongly support the European Commission's trials in Geneva with a number of partners to strengthen the reform of the WTO and to modernize this institution," she said, stressing that the appeal body is one of the big issues because it is still blocked.

"Proposals have been made to unlock the situation and I hope some negotiations will be pursued to take things forward," she added.

According to the Commissioner, the EU is in the process of updating the rules of the organization and collaborates with other countries in this respect.

Malmstrom also underlined that at EU level there are "some concerns about the trade policy currently led by the United States."

"We have unanimously considered that we need to have a positive agenda on the basis of the joint declaration made by the two presidents -- Trump and Juncker -- at the White House last July," she said.

However, Malmstrom stressed earlier in the day that the EU will end trade negotiations with the United States if the latter imposes tariffs on car imports.

EU trade ministers gathered on February 21-22 in Bucharest in an informal meeting to discuss the WTO's modernization process and EU-US trade relations.

Xinhua