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Trade agreements can help increase sales and support jobs in the EU's agri-food sector, according to a new study for the European Commission.
The study was conducted by consultancy firm Copenhagen Economics. It considered the impact on exports of agri-food products of three different types of trade agreement: "first generation" agreements; deep and comprehensive, new generation agreements (DCFTAs); and specific sectorial agreements. The EU's trade deals with Mexico, South Korea, and Switzerland were studied in detail as respective examples of the three kinds of agreement.
Commenting on the research, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: "These three agreements alone have increased EU agri-food exports by more than EUR1bn (USD1.06bn) and have raised value-added in the agri-food sector by EUR600m. Just as importantly, this increase in exports has supported thousands of jobs in total across the EU, most of which in the agri-food sector, including in primary agriculture. These figures are clear evidence that ambitious and balanced trade deals work for European food and farming."
The study found that the agreement between the EU and Mexico added EUR105m to EU agri-food exports in 2013, three years after both sides had completed the removal of trade barriers. Negotiations are currently underway to modernize the EU-Mexico agreement.
Although not yet fully implemented, the EU-South Korea Free Trade agreement added EUR439m in additional EUR agri-food exports in 2015 (the latest year from which data is available). Additional imports of EUR116m consisted mostly of processed food and beverages.
Finally, the Commission said that trade agreements with Switzerland on agricultural products and processed agricultural products together added EUR532m to EU agri-food exports in 2010, three years after they were fully implemented.
According to the Commission, the findings illustrate that more recent, ambitious agreements, such as the agreement with South Korea, have a higher positive impact than older and less comprehensive treaties like the 2000 EU-Mexico agreement. It said this is a sign of the increasing quality and effectiveness of EU trade agreements in terms of removing barriers and of the success of the sector in improving competitiveness.
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