Among the participants were the designated EU Commissioner for Trade and Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, and the EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton.
Federal Minister Peter Altmaier said:
Especially in the current crisis, our enterprises need open markets and a reliable and strong multilateral trading system. The COVID-19 crisis has reminded us of the importance of international trade for both our supply of essential goods and our prosperity. At the same time, it has highlighted the vulnerabilities of the supply and value chains. We need to draw lessons from this crisis and strengthen and expand our trade relations by means of modern free trade and investment protection agreements and a strong World Trade Organization. This is the only way to make our supply and value chains more resilient. Open markets and free trade are the driving forces to lead Europe out of the crisis.
The agenda included current issues of European trade policy, notably:
- A discussion on the European Commission’s Trade Policy Review for the re-orientation of European trade policy, not least in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Gabriel Felbermayr (Kiel Institute for the World Economy) spoke about the resilience of global value chains.
- There was a discussion about the situation in the European steel industry, during which the two Commissioners present, Valdis Dombrovskis and Thierry Breton, gave their respective views from a trade and industrial policy angle. The discussion was also informed by input from the European steel industry.
- There was a discussion on how to strengthen the multilateral trading system and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Here, the focus was on the selection process for a WTO Director-General to take this position over from Director-General Roberto Azevedo.