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Today, the EU Trade Ministers met in Bucharest, Romania, to discuss current trade-policy challenges. The discussions focused on the European Commission’s proposals on mandates for the future trade relations between the EU and the U.S. (agreements on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods and on conformity assessment).

Federal Minister Altmaier said: “The successful free trade agreement with Japan and the approval of the free trade agreement with Singapore by the European Parliament are positive signals in favour of free trade that Europe is sending out against protectionist tendencies worldwide. The EU is ready to conclude an agreement with the U.S. on the reduction of industrial tariffs. This would also strengthen the world economy, which is already suffering from the impact of the trade conflict. Today, we have taken a step forward, but there is still a long way to go. The transatlantic willingness to solve the problems is more important than ever.”

The Trade Ministers also talked about the modernisaton of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Federal Minister Altmaier declared: “Without the WTO, the principle that ‘might is right’ would prevail in trade relations. The WTO is a very important organisation to promote rules-based international trade. We need to position it better and strengthen it to be able to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. For this purpose, we are, together with the European Commission, engaged in talks with numerous international partners, including the U.S. and China.”

Important issues related to the modernisation of the WTO include re-establishing a functioning WTO dispute settlement mechanism, closing gaps in the WTO rules, for example on subsidies or e-commerce, and improving the work of the WTO, also in its committees and bodies.