- EU Focuses on Lithium Deposits in Chile and Australia in Trade Deal
- New Zealand deal likely to move fast in 2023
- Free trade deal with Mexico could revive Mercosur
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union secures its future as a leader in clean technology by securing supplies of critical raw materials, expanding markets for green exports and reducing reliance on them For China, which is aiming to finalize up to five trade deals in record time.
The EU’s massive trade push is an important part of the EU’s ‘Green Deal Industrial Plan’ and ensures that the bloc remains a competitive manufacturing hub with the US and others.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will announce the plan on Wednesday.
Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said multiple economic shocks, including the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and rising protectionist tendencies, have sparked an EU-wide debate on competitiveness.
“This discussion has evolved into a broader consideration of whether the EU should remain outward-looking or become even more inward-looking,” he told lawmakers, adding that the EU is a “trading superpower”. He added that he believes he drew that strength from something.
A year ago, EU diplomats said France, then in the EU’s six-month replacement presidency, had stopped moving ahead with a trade deal to prevent globalization concerns from hampering presidential and parliamentary elections. said he did.
Sweden and Spain, advocates of open trade, are the current and next EU presidency, and both want to revive trade promotion.
The five deals under consideration are collectively worth around €10 billion ($10.9 billion) to the EU, according to Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of the trade think-tank, and will boost markets in the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region. It can help increase share and influence. ECIPE.
André Sapir, a senior fellow at the think tank Bruegel, said the EU’s free trade agreements have often been undulating, with protectionist periods in between.
“Geopolitical developments and access to raw materials are now providing additional impetus,” he said.
Lithium Leader Chile, Australia
Europe needs to build its own refining of raw materials, work with partners including the United States to strengthen supply chains, and reduce its dependence on China, which dominates the processing of rare earths and lithium, says von der Leyen. said.
The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which seeks to make the U.S. a leader in green technology, perhaps at the expense of Europe, reinforces this need.
The commission, which negotiates trade deals on behalf of 27 EU member states, said the latest deal with Chile, signed in December, could help Europe improve access to lithium, a key component of car batteries. I am emphasizing that it is possible.
Chile is the second largest producer of lithium in the world.
The EU sees similar prospects in another trade deal with Australia, the largest lithium producer.
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EU officials have negotiated a number of trade deals, but the process of approving them is very slow.
The bloc’s recently implemented trade deals with Singapore and Vietnam took four to five years to clear the European Parliament and the EU government, while a speedy deal between the EU and Japan took 18 months.
Agreements with Mexico from 2018 and agreements with the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay from 2019 are on hold.
The European Parliament and EU governments could now approve a deal signed with New Zealand in June 2022 as early as mid-year and then give the green light to the Chile deal, EU officials say. .
Assuming Mexico accepts splitting the deal in two, the 2018 deal with Mexico could be followed by an agreement, some of which could be quickly followed in Brussels. A planned Australian deal could also be pushed forward if agreed by mid-2023.
“Finalizing free trade agreements and expanding the network of free trade agreements will be high on our agenda for this year and next,” Dombrowskis said at a press conference earlier this month.
The commission negotiating trade deals for 27 EU member states said the defeat of Luis Inacio Lula over José Borsanaro in Brazil’s presidential election in October created an opportunity to reconsider the Mercosur agreement.
“We can’t pass up the chance with Lula,” said a senior Spanish diplomat.
The deal has been put on hold due to EU concerns over Amazon deforestation and demands of sustainability efforts. Lula has vowed to tackle rainforest logging, but trade analysts say the revival of the EU-MERCOSUR agreement still requires tough negotiations.
“It certainly wasn’t possible for the EU with Bolsanaro, but it’s also complicated now for the Mercosur side,” Sapir said.
($1 = 0.9184 Euro)
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop.Editing by Catherine Evans
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