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Minister Humphreys attends EU Trade Ministers’ meeting to put forward Ireland’s views on the EU Trade Agenda and ongoing Trade negotiations with her EU Counterparts

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, today (Tuesday, 27th February) attended the EU Trade Council hosted by the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU taking place in Sofia.

The Minister expressed her desire to see agreement reached on a number of current issues, including trade negotiations with Mexico in order for Irish and EU exporters and companies to take advantage of the benefits of this important Agreement in support of good employment in global exporting enterprises, especially SMEs.

The Minister presented EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, with the recent Copenhagen Economics Study on the Impacts of Brexit for the Irish economy outlining the potential severe impact on jobs and the rural economy under all Brexit scenarios given their implications for the entire agri-food sector. The Minister also thanked the Commissioner for its support for Ireland at this challenging time as well as for its leadership on behalf of the EU on the international trade agenda.

The Minister impressed upon the Commissioner Ireland’s concerns on how negotiations on an Agreement with Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) could impact on our agricultural sector, especially given the many uncertainties and challenges, including Brexit, facing the sector in Ireland. The Minister also highlighted the importance of the broader EU Trade Agenda in helping to address new global challenges by providing new market opportunities for our many innovative enterprises.

At the Council, the Minister met with other EU Trade Ministers to discuss the follow up to the 11th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference which will took place in December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as the status of a number of ongoing EU Trade negotiations. In this regard, the Minister endorsed the leadership role the European Union is playing in strengthening and sustaining the WTO and emphasised her continued support for a global, balanced, fair and rules-based trading system, albeit some other powerful trading countries have questioned the capacity of the WTO at this time, a position not shared by Ireland.

The Minister also took opportunities to meet bilaterally with Mr Didier Reynders Belgium, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs & European Affairs to discuss the EU’s trade agenda as well as the impacts of the UK’s departure from the EU for Ireland. The Minister also met with the UK Trade Minister Greg Hands.

Speaking at the conclusion of the Council, the Minister said “having strong leadership from the EU Commission on behalf of the EU Member States on Trade matters is crucial at this time of many challenges to the World Trade Agenda. Global trade and export diversification have never been so important, as we seek to grow new markets to offset the impacts of Brexit. Trade has been a crucial contributor to Ireland’s economic progress and Ireland continues to strongly support the EU Commission in its ambitious agenda to improve further outcomes for all our citizens from global trade.”

ENDS

For further information contact Press Office, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation: Phone: 01- 6312200; email: press.office@dbei.gov.ie.

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