Free-trading Stockholm six counter French protectionism
7 days ago
Sweden is rallying trade ministers from ‘like-minded’ liberal countries to counterbalance protectionist proposals.
The battlelines in the clash to determine the future of EU trade and industrial policy just got clearer.
Sweden is rallying trade ministers from “like-minded” liberal countries to counterbalance protectionist proposals from both their EU colleagues and the European Commission.
Swedish Trade Minister Anna Hallberg has invited her counterparts from Denmark, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic to meet in Stockholm next Tuesday. “The purpose of the meeting is to gather like minded-countries in the EU,” a spokesperson for Hallberg said.
The meeting comes at a crucial moment. France, Italy and even Germany, have aggressively pushed the new Commission to get tougher on trade defense, softer on subsidies, and allow more heavyweight “European champions” to counter China.
Amid the protectionist onslaught, liberal countries feel under the gun and the Swedish initiative aims to form a new grouping to weigh in on trade proposals, which are currently dominated by French positions at the European level. It also seeks to reawaken Germany’s more liberal instincts. However, Berlin is still cautious. A spokesperson for the German economy ministry did not wish to comment on the meeting and said only that “the appointment is not open to the press.”
While officially the group of ministers will prepare for a WTO ministerial summit later this year, Swedish officials said it was also intended to send a message. “We want to see if like-minded countries can take a clearer stance in favor of free trade,” one official said.