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Bilateral and multilateral trade agreements

The European Commission seeks to improve market access for European food and drink products in non-EU countries.

Bilateral trade

On behalf of the EU, the Commission negotiates and implements bilateral trade agreements with non-EU countries. Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs is responsible for the negotiation and implementation of preferential trade regimes for processed agricultural products (PAPs).

The EU has concluded, or is negotiating, these kinds of bilateral trade agreements with:

  • OECD countries (USA, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, the European Economic Area, Mexico, Chile and South Korea);
  • Euro-Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey);
  • Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela);
  • Andean countries (Columbia, Peru, Equator and Bolivia);
  • Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama);
  • Gulf Co-operation Council countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates);
  • Balkan countries;
  • ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) countries.

Multilateral trade

The access of the EU food industry to non-EU markets also depends on international trade agreements and negotiations, particularly those of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Within this multilateral framework, the Commission seeks to improve export competition and market access, in particular for EU food and drink products.

The WTO is a negotiating forum designed to liberalise world trade. The EU negotiates in the WTO on behalf of all EU countries.

At this time, WTO members are engaged in a round of multilateral negotiations known as the Doha Development Agenda. Negotiations are currently at a standstill; the four main players of trade in food products (Brazil, the EU, India and the USA) have held talks but have not yet reached an agreement.