ETRMA members fully support the multilateral liberalisation of trade through the WTO which it believes is fundamental in improving both the competitiveness of European Industries and market access to third countries. Free trade is the best option to guarantee new market opportunities which have a direct impact on economic and therefore on broader societal well-being. Global agreements provide the most optimal framework but when no further progress can be obtained through this route, ETRMA support that a regional or bilateral approach would be chosen instead.

Regarding regional/bilateral agreements – ideally Free Trade Agreement – priorities should be set on cooperation and efforts to enhance market access in particularly with emerging countries with high growth rate and tendency to protectionist policies.

A Free Trade Agreement should be beneficial for all parties in setting a fair and equitable level playing field between the two entities, in full consistency with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.  To this end, it should allow to move towards deeper economic integration amongst the two countries/regions through progressive elimination of all forms of barriers to trade in goods, services and investments, including tariffs and non-tariff measures.

European tyre manufacturers therefore expect that pending dossiers with key Asian emerging markets will receive a new impetus as a result of the European Commission's on-going negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with India and the ASEAN countries.  The 'new generation' agreements are intended to go beyond areas covered by WTO rules, in including, for instance, the respect of intellectual property rights and foreign investments.

To remove the identified non-tariff barriers, the industry believes that the best signal to secure a level regulatory playing field with these key players is to demand the progressive elimination of currently identified trade obstacles, prior to the completion of any FTA.  To achieve this, the EC should obtain its partners' commitment to contribute to the international harmonisation of technical regulations, through adhesion to international fora such as the UNECE.

It is also essential that the EC closely involves industry, keeping it regularly updated throughout the FTA negotiation process, from preliminary consultations and the launch of talks through to the completion of the final agreement.  It is only through such intense cooperation with industry that the European Union will able to achieve its ambitious objective of "opening markets abroad".