Grybauskaite-Malstrom: free trade with the United States benefits Lithuania
President Dalia Grybauskaite met with Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Commissioner for Trade, to discuss the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations between the EU and the United States and the EU’s relations with the Eurasian Economic Union, reported BC presidential press service.
According to the President, the EU-U.S. free trade agreement, which will strengthen transatlantic relations, is important for Lithuania and the whole of Europe. Lithuania would be among the EU countries benefiting the most – free trade with the United States is expected to increase Lithuania’s GDP by 1.6% and its exports by 17%.
“The European Union and the United States have a historic opportunity to create the world’s largest free trade area to the advantage of more than 800 million people. This agreement would open the door for Lithuania to U.S. agricultural and food markets while U.S. liquefied gas exports could reach the Klaipeda LNG more easily. It is an opportunity for the EU’s sluggish economy to boost trade and create more jobs for the people of Europe,” the President said.
Foreign trade is important for the Lithuanian economy. Exports account for nearly 80% of the Lithuanian GDP; therefore, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would remove trade barriers between the EU and the United States, would be particularly beneficial for our country.
The aim is to conclude the negotiations on the free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States by the end of this year. Lithuania is among the staunchest supporters of free trade between the EU and the United States: 78% of the people in Lithuania support the transatlantic agreement.
The President and the EU Commissioner also discussed possible cooperation between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union. Dalia Grybauskaite highlighted that the Eurasian Economic Union was a geopolitical rather than economic project designed to consolidate Russia’s economic and political influence in the region. No constructive cooperation with Russia and the economic union created by it is possible as long as Russia imposes an economic embargo on the EU and Eastern Partnership countries, continues aggression in Ukraine and violates international trade agreements.
The European Union has brought 4 cases against Russia at the World Trade Organization concerning the customs duties, taxes and other restrictions on trade that Russia applies.
The meeting also focused on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association and Free Trade Agreement. The President emphasized that it was necessary to continue the early application of this agreement for the Ukrainian economy to recover and reduce its economic dependence on Russia. The Free Trade Agreement also opens up more avenues for EU and Lithuanian companies to invest in the 45 million strong Ukrainian consumer market.