On 25 March 2013, the EU and Japan officially launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA). The first round of negotiations will be held in Brussels from 15 to 19 April 2013.
On 12 March 2013, the EU College of Commissioners agreed on a draft mandate for negotiations on an EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This draft mandate is being discussed by the Member States and a decision by the Council on possible adoption is expected in June 2013. The EP is working on a resolution on the subject as well in order to make its views known before the Council adopts the negotiating mandate. Subject to pending EU Council adoption and completion of US notification procedures, the first round of negotiations between the EU and the US could be held in July 2013. The ambitious aim is to conclude negotiations by the end of 2014.
The European Commission reportedly estimates that legal scrubbing procedures will be completed to allow for initialling (and release of the draft text) of the EUSingapore FTA in the late Spring. Negotiations on investment protection provisions are still on-going, but the Commission is aiming to incorporate the investment chapter into the FTA during the FTA adoption/ratification process.
On 6 March 2013, the EU and Thailand officially announced the launch of bilateral FTA negotiations. A first round of negotiations is expected to take place in May 2013 in Brussels. The aim is to conclude a comprehensive agreement covering tariffs, non-tariff barriers, services, investment, procurement, regulatory issues, competition and sustainable development.
The third round of FTA negotiations between the EU and Vietnam is scheduled to take place in Brussels during the week of 23 April 2013. The Parties aim to conclude a comprehensive free trade agreement covering tariffs, foreign direct investment, procurement, disciplines on state-owned enterprises, trade in raw materials, sustainable development, and regulatory issues.
Following chief negotiator meetings held in March, a meeting has been scheduled between EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht and Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Sharma for 15 April 2013. It is hoped that the ministerial meeting will resolve key outstanding issues relating to services, tariffs and public procurement to enable conclusion of the negotiations and initialling of an agreement before India’s general elections in 2014.