Valdis Dombrovskis pursues green in EU trade
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Hello from Brussels, the summer vacation is almost empty, although you still have a week of trade secrets before we go on vacation in August. In fact, the outflow of European Commission officials who did not work for the major announcements in July-mainly “Suitable for 55“The climate package, we still think it is a stupid name-it seems to have started earlier than usual. The pandemic has made the year very long. Today’s main content is the environment related to the committee’s executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis. In a policy interview, he added trade to his already inflated portfolio nearly a year ago. Today’s Financial Times also Have a story Regarding his views on the US steel and aluminum disputes.
Concession waters Look at the scale of trade recovery in the Eurozone.
Environmentalism that some people call colonialism
Nowadays, any problem in Brussels cannot avoid being painted with a charming green shade before being pushed to the public, no matter how thin this layer of environmental protection proves in reality. Almost every European Commissioner mentioned the Green New Deal and suitability for 55-year-olds in almost every speech on almost all topics.
When the British “Financial Times” spoke to Valdis Dombrovskis last week, he told us sharply that “it is clear that achieving our climate goals requires what we call a full committee effort, including the contribution of trade policy.”
So, in addition to the carbon boundary adjustment mechanism, what can trade do?Incorporate environmental issues into trade agreements, as we did Written before, It’s really a tricky question. On the one hand, the EU may provide privileged market access to farmers who destroy the earth’s important forests in the Amazon, which seems to be morally problematic.On the other hand, environmental conditions are potential WTO illegal On the grounds of discrimination, it may have adverse effects, may be captured by protectionists, and attacked by developing countries as neo-imperialists. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Described as a “colonialist” Rich countries are demanding action to reduce deforestation in the Amazon, and the European Union has made it a condition for approving a trade agreement with Mercosur.
The EU is reviewing the “Trade and Sustainable Development” chapter of its standard bilateral agreement to give more attention.Most importantly, Dombrovskis told us-although this is only a proposal for discussion at this stage-he hopes to include more environmental conditions in the EU’s preferential program, especially its Generalized System of Preferences (Generalized System of Preferences), which provides lower tariffs for certain developing countries. “We will strengthen the sustainability perspective and ensure that countries that benefit from the GSP preferences respect international commitments on workers’ rights and environmental protection,” he said.
Now, the beneficiaries of the Standard Generalized System of Preferences program include Currently 15, It is already necessary to “respect the principles of 15 international agreements on labor standards and human rights.” But Donbrowskis seems to imply that the EU may further raise these requirements to the level currently required by the enhancement plan called “Generalized System of Preferences+”.The eight countries currently eligible for GSP+ get better trade access in exchange for more obstacles: they must ratify 27 international conventions on human rights, labor standards, environment and good governance and submit them Close monitoring Implemented by the European Commission.
“The idea is to strengthen this dimension of sustainability for the entire GSP and GSP+ beneficiaries,” Dombrovskis said. “Non-compliance may result in some or all welfare losses.” He explained that this idea is very much in line with the committee’s new concerns about law enforcement. The Bureau of Trade appointed Denis Redonnet, an experienced commission official last year, as his first “Chief Law Enforcement Officer“.
What Dombrovsky’s ideas mean in practice is still unclear, especially since they have to pass through the EU threshing plant. Decision-making processBut this is a direction that runs counter to the EU’s traditional trade policy stance—the binding and sanctionable environmental and human rights standards in trade agreements will backfire and trigger many painful and difficult decisions about the removal of preferential tariffs.
The EU has had to make painful decisions to hurt very poor producers in this way.It has raised tariffs on some clothing and footwear Cambodia (Under the EU’s “Everything But Arms” program for LDCs instead of GSP), for example, because its government violated human rights.Is currently considering whether Remove Pakistan Included in the GSP+ list due to severe suppression of religious freedom.
Increasing tariffs in GSP countries because of trees rather than people—for example, failing to protect biodiversity—may prove more controversial.It will also need a lot of Supervision and enforcement to maintain standard GSP countries (the current list of 15 includes India and Nigeria) comply with a series of new conditions.
The political urgency to include more and more green plants in trade policy is strong. “All policies must contribute to these goals. From this perspective, our new trade policy strategy is undoubtedly the cleanest and most environmentally friendly strategy we have ever had,” said Donbrowskis. But this is also accompanied by internal opposition and external criticism, especially for the developing countries themselves. These ideas will not be adopted without struggle.
The recovery of world trade in the second half of last year was remarkable, including in the Eurozone.
In May 2021, the euro zone’s merchandise exports to the rest of the world amounted to 188.2 billion euros, while imports reached 180.7 billion euros. Compared with May 2020, this is an increase of 31.9% and 35.2%, respectively. Both figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Commission.
Given that most parts of the world were closed during the first few months of the Covid-19 attack, although one might expect the percentage to rise sharply, exports (and imports) are now higher than they were when the pandemic broke out. Claire Jones
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