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External Trade Relations


The European Union is the world's largest trading power, with a 20% share of global trade in goods. Its foundation some 50 years ago led to free trade between its Member States and, against this backdrop, it is a firm proponent of global liberalisation. European trade policy is governed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which provide the necessary legal certainty and transparency for international trade. EU trade policy is committed to a successful conclusion to the ongoing negotiations in the Doha Round.

Under the Treaty on European Union, trade is a Community competence. The European Union has the main responsibility for conducting trade relations and concluding trade agreements with non-member countries. In certain cases these powers are shared, e.g. if an agreement also covers political cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs. Such agreements are signed by both the EU and the individual Member States.

EU trade policy goes hand in hand with its development policy. In the context of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), the European Union grants developing countries and those with economies in transition tariff-free or preferential access to its market. The EU has developed a new trade and development strategy with many non-member countries, including Mexico, Chile, South Africa and its 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific partners, to help these countries integrate into the global economy. Trade agreements with other regional groupings - Mercosur, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Andean Community, etc. – are currently under negotiation.

 

Date: 30.12.2005