Trade is the life blood of economies. Since global trade has accelerated in more recent years, so too has global prosperity. Europe has benefitted enormously – our companies are exporting all over the world, creating jobs here in Europe and earning vital foreign earnings. Equally our economies are benefitting from more varied and cheaper imports that satisfy consumer demand and the needs of our manufacturing and services sectors.
Trade is a motor of growth, jobs and prosperity. EU trade is currently worth about €3.5 trillion per year and trade policy over the next five years aims to add €150 billion to the Union’s economy.
An open trade and investment policy is even more important in a challenging global economic environment. In 2010, for example, roughly a quarter of economic growth in the EU came as a result of the EU’s trade performance. Without vibrant global trading opportunities Europe would be much poorer.
With 90 % of future global economic growth set to be generated outside of Europe by 2015, trade can only become more significant to growth and jobs in the EU.
We can create stronger growth and more jobs by further opening up global markets. We need to build upon successes like the EU-South Korea free trade agreement concluded last year. This is expected to create some € 19 billion in new export opportunities for Europe's businesses. In the medium to long term, it will double trade between Europe and South Korea, to mutual advantage.
The European Union must take a new step forward by entering free trade agreements with its partners. We need to accelerate progress on free trade agreements with Mercosur, Japan, Russia, Canada, among others. These are essential to future growth, jobs and prosperity in Europe.