EU and International Trade Policy

At the latest since the negotiations between the EU and the USA on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in 2014/15, EU trade policy has become a focus of public interest. A major reason for this is the broad agenda of the so-called 'new generation free trade agreements (FTAs)’ and the potential social, economic and environmental impacts of trade policy that accompany them. Broadly conceived, the 'new generation FTAs’ cover a wide range of issues and areas, including liberalisation of services and investment, government procurement and cooperation on all relevant trade regulations. They aim to reduce unnecessary restrictions and align different regulations between the EU and its trading partners. The latter concerns many sensitive areas such as health standards, consumer protection regulations, food laws or social and environmental standards.

ÖFSE examines the economic impact of trade agreements from both a macroeconomic and sectoral perspective. A particular focus of our work is on the effects of trade liberalisation on so-called "developing and emerging countries". In terms of methodology, ÖFSE works both quantitatively and qualitatively. For the quantitative analysis, a structuralist Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model is used, the ÖFSE Global Trade Model, with the help of which concrete statements can be made about important sectoral and macroeconomic variables such as income, employment and distribution. The model has been employed in the analysis of the effects of numerous trade agreements such as TTIP, CETA, the EU's Economic Partnership Agreements with the ACP countries, or the EU trade agreements with Vietnam and Tunisia.

For qualitative studies, Global Value Chain (GVC) analysis  is used, amongst others. This allows the effects of trade liberalisation to be examined more closely at sector level and economic and development policy recommendations to be formulated that show where the opportunities and challenges of selected sectors lie in the course of trade liberalisation. To this end, ÖFSE has conducted numerous sector analyses in a number of so-called "developing and emerging countries" with a focus on Africa and Asia. ÖFSE's particular expertise lies in the areas of agriculture (e.g. cotton, olive oil, cocoa, mangoes, fish, coffee and seafood), mineral raw materials (e.g. lithium, bauxite, tantalum) and light industries (e.g. textiles and clothing, leather, electronics).

Another focus of work in this area is the investigation of the social and human rights effects of trade liberalisation. On the one hand, this involves examining the labour rights situation in certain sectors, and on the other, the effects on particularly vulnerable groups, such as women, children or indigenous groups.

For more information contact:

Dr. Bernhard Tröster
Senior Researcher
phone: +43 1 317 40 10 – 117
1090 Vienna, Sensengasse 3
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