In accordance with the ECJ guidelines, the EU is now designing free trade agreements to remain within the exclusive competence of the EU. Therefore, areas such as investor-state dispute settlement and portfolio investments must be negotiated in the case of separate agreements. This clear division of the domains into different agreements makes it possible for European legislators to ratify and enforce free trade agreements quickly and reliably. However, such a separation is not possible if trade agreements are an integral part of political association agreements (for example. B with Ukraine, Mexico, Mercosur, etc.). These contracts remain mixed, if only because of the foreign and security policy components (the EU negotiations with Mercosur are based on a 20-year term and do not involve the settlement of investor-state disputes). Other agreements were signed in March with the Pacific Islands (Papua New Guinea and Fiji) and the Cariforum countries (Caribbean). A trade continuity agreement with Iceland and Norway was signed in April. The agreement was signed in May with the Andean countries (Ecuador, Colombia and Peru) and in July with six Central American countries. A continuity agreement with South Korea was initially announced in June and signed in August.
In September, the government announced that it had signed an economic partnership agreement with the five members of SACU and Mozambique. In January 2018, the government said it had worked with 70 countries covered by more than 40 EU international trade agreements and had received a positive response to its goal of ensuring the continuity of these trade relations. Negotiating free trade agreements is far from easy. Due to the complexity of modern free trade agreements, negotiations can take years. At the end of June 2019, about 20 years after the start of the negotiations, the European Commission reached an agreement in principle on the free trade agreement with the Mercosur countries. Months of work must be invested in the details before the agreement is ready to be signed. Legislators do not expect the agreement to be tabled until the second half of 2020. Many of the EU`s trade agreements are still being ratified and are only being implemented temporarily.
CETA is a mixed agreement. Chapters under the exclusive competence of the Union are currently being applied on an interim basis, with ratification not yet completed in the Member States. On the other hand, the chapter on investment protection is not yet implemented until ratification by members. The EU and Singapore have negotiated a free trade agreement and an investment protection agreement, two separate treaties. The trade agreement came into force at the end of 2019, after the approval of the European Parliament and the Council. The investment protection agreement still needs to be ratified by all Member States according to their own national procedures. In mid-2019, the EU signed a trade agreement and an investment protection agreement with Vietnam. The free trade agreement with Vietnam was approved by the European Parliament in February 2020; Vietnam has already complied with EU requirements for compliance with international labour standards. The free trade agreement is expected to enter into force in the summer of 2020. In 2019, the European Union and Vietnam have agreed on a free trade agreement.
The trade agreement includes a number of goods and services. The agreements set significant tariff reductions for food and beverage products, as well as the removal of a number of non-tariff barriers. The agreement also contains obligations on international workers` rights and protection, global environmental agreements and human rights. In late January and February, the signing of free trade agreements with Chile, the States of East and South Africa, the Faroe Islands, Switzerland, Israel and the Palestinian Authority was announced.