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Uncertainty Is Pushing the EU to Speed Up Its Trade Deals

May 31, 2018 | 09:15 GMT
In this photograph, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left to right), European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speak at a news conference after an EU-Japan summit in Brussels on July 6, 2017.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left to right), European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speak at a news conference after an EU-Japan summit in Brussels on July 6, 2017. Abe and top EU officials agreed to the broad outline of a landmark trade deal, presented as a direct challenge to protectionism championed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

(JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

In the wake of the disruption of trade rolling out of Washington, the European Union is accelerating its drive to lock down as many import-export agreements as it can. In recent months, the bloc has completed deals with Japan and Singapore, updated an agreement with Mexico, authorized talks with Australia and New Zealand, and made progress with the Common Market of the South, the South American trade bloc known as Mercosur. While the EU push for free trade isn't new (it struck agreements with South Korea in 2010 and Canada in 2014), Donald Trump's White House has given its pursuit of additional deals new impetus. But concern about the possible re-emergence of protectionism around the world isn't the only thing driving the EU's campaign. Europe's population is aging, and its growth rates aren't keeping up with those of emerging nations. Aware of this, the bloc is moving to put its stamp...

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