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EU preferential trade in 2020

Among the 67 trading partners, Switzerland remained the EU’s top trading partner, with 21.5% of trade, followed by Turkey (11.3%), Japan (9.4%), Norway (7.8%) and South Korea (7.7%). Together, these five partners accounted for more than half of EU preferential trade (57.7%). In terms of overall trade, Switzerland is the EU’s fourth-largest partner, the largest being China, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom. Russia, Turkey, Japan, Norway, South Korea and India are in 5th to 10th place, respectively.

The EU’s most recent trade agreements help companies to access new markets not only by eliminating tariffs, but also by opening up public tenders in partner countries to EU bidders.

Global markets remain an important source of growth for SMEs, who support more than 13 million jobs in the EU. More than 580 000 SMEs export to markets outside the EU and account for one third of all EU exports.

How to trade beyond the EU’s borders

Access2Markets portal, offering a free, one-stop shop source of information about trade

Access2Markets, the new platform with its integrated Rules of Origin Assessment Tool (ROSA) offers a wealth of free, searchable, multi-lingual, and up-to date information:

✓ 122 export markets outside the EU and 190 source markets

✓ Searchable information on tariffs, taxes, quotas, import formalities and procedures for imports and exports

✓ Rules of Origin Self Assessment tool (ROSA) to compare rules across EU trade agreements.

ROSA, Rules of Origin Self Assessment tool

✓ Online tool guiding users through a set of questions on rules of origin;

✓ Users can easily assess whether or not their products fulfil the rules and qualify for preferential treatment under an EU trade agreement;

✓ Users also find clear instructions on paperwork required to benefit from tariff preferences;

✓ Users can compare the rules across various agreements.

Additional elements to complete Access2Markets include in particular the following:

✓ A searchable database covering a number of service sectors under EU agreements is being developed on a pilot basis, and specific sectoral guides zooming in on certain regions or countries, for example, in the area of plant and animal health provisions.

✓ Extension of ROSA’s geographical coverage to all EU FTAs. Today, it already captures 26 trade agreements with 36 countries (including the UK, Central American partners, Columbia/Peru/Ecuador, Vietnam, Canada, Japan and South Korea).

In addition, a specific tool for public procurement, Access2Procurement, was launched in September 2021 for CETA, the EU trade agreement with Canada, and will be extended over time to other trade agreements and the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). It can be of particular relevance for EU SMEs interested in foreign procurement markets.

Access2Procurement: Know your rights and tap into new opportunities abroad

✓ With a few mouse-clicks, European suppliers can now find out whether they are entitled under CETA or the WTO GPA to participate in a public tender.

✓ After answering three quick questions on procuring entity, subject matter of the procurement and expected value of the contract, the new tool gives a quick and highly reliable assessment on whether the user has the legal right to take part.

A training on Access2Markets, ROSA and Access2Procurement is organised on 17 November. Info and registration

The first comprehensive annual report on implementation and enforcement of EU trade agreements covers four priority areas: (1) Making full use of the opportunities provided by EU trade agreements; (2) Supporting the uptake of trade agreements by small businesses; (3) Addressing trade barriers; (4) Enforcing trade commitments through dispute settlement.

Deepening of cooperation with business and business networks

To reach companies on the ground, the Commission in 2020 continued to deepen its cooperation with representatives of EU business interests in the EU and in third countries, including Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).

EEN is providing advice on FTAs concluded by the EU. The EEN thematic group for SME internationalisation regularly shares information about latest trade related issues via the EEN community platform. The expert group also organises webinars for local businesses and EEN advisers and runs help desks to spread information on trade agreements.

European Enterprise Network recent activities

· On 27 January 2021, the EEN thematic group for SME internationalisation organised a webinar ”Meet our international partners: EEN Singapore”, highlighting the opportunities and support available for EU business keen on doing business in Singapore taking advantage of the FTA.

· EEN Vietnam started a helpdesk to assess enterprises needs regarding the EUVietnam FTA that entered into force on 1st August 2020, including by running surveys, organising meetings etc.

· In November 2020, the EEN – in close cooperation with DG TRADE – hosted a dedicated hands-on training on the functionalities of the Access2Markets portal. The webinar was well received and more than 200 EEN advisers followed the training. More practical/hands on training sessions are planned in the future.

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