In the world of global trade, circumstances can change very quickly and it is important that the European Union is well equipped and able to adapt to new realities. This requires us to be proactive and work hard with our partners to ensure that our trade agreements can continue to deliver in the areas of jobs creation and economic growth, despite the many challenges that come with a constantly changing environment.

In a time when protectionism is on the rise, like-minded countries must stand up for the idea of global, open cooperation. Good and fair trade agreements are a way to create jobs, growth and investment, as well as promoting sustainable development and shared values.

This is why I am very pleased to report on the progress we are making in our negotiations with Mexico. The latest round took place late last month, and in line with our commitment to a more transparent trade and investment policy we have now published our negotiating proposals on our website – six initial European proposals for modernising various elements of the current EU-Mexico agreement. These proposals represent the EU's initial negotiating position on how to make the current agreement – sixteen years old and in need of an update – broader and more far-reaching. We've so far had good initial talks with our Mexican counterparts. Publishing these proposals will enable interested parties to join and contribute to the discussion, including civil society, which is absolutely necessary to reach a good agreement. There is also a full round report available here.

The European Union enjoys a long-standing and beneficial relationship with Mexico, but it has been a long time since the last update of our trade ties. Global trade patterns have changed substantially during the sixteen-year period since our existing deal was struck. In our ongoing negotiations, we are now working towards achieving an agreement which can mirror other ambitious trade deals that the EU and Mexico have since negotiated. Among the things we are discussing is protecting European products with geographical indications, as well as finding ways to balance the need to uphold our respective Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures while making sure they do not create unnecessary barriers to trade.

There are many examples of how simplified EU-Mexico trade pays off for our producers – one is the Spanish family-owned company Cosentino, which produces surfaces in the fields of architecture and design. It has increased its exports to Mexico by 20% over the last five years, under the current trade deal from 2000, through the elimination of customs duties and administrative burdens. The company now employs over 3500 people and would benefit further if we can make trade between the EU and Mexico even easier. More examples of European companies taking advantage of the huge Mexican market can be found on our website.

Conversely, the EU is Mexico's third-largest trading partner after the US and China, and Mexico's biggest export market after the US. Between 2005 and 2015, the yearly trade flow of goods between us more than doubled, from 26 to 53 billion euros. EU foreign direct investment stock has accumulated $156 billion since the current agreement came into force. Apart from boosting this already important trade, making our agreement with Mexico more efficient would also provide greater access for European companies to both North and Central America, which are connected to the Mexican economy through dynamic supply chains. And an updated agreement would contribute to Mexico's long-term goal of diversifying its economy.

In short, we need to bring our current agreement up to speed. Work is now well underway to deepen openness on both sides in order to boost growth, make our firms more competitive, widen choice for consumers, and create jobs.

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