EU trade chief pledges to speed up efforts to strike new deals

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The EU will accelerate efforts to strike new trade deals with “like-minded partners” as the bloc tries to reduce its dependence on Russian energy and natural resources, the EU’s trade chief said in an interview with the Financial Times.

European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said the EU needs to “broaden its base” of trading partners to become more “resilient” in areas like raw materials and commodities.

“We can use our network of free trade agreements (FTAs) to face the current geopolitical challenges, to diversify away from Russia’s supplies, to strengthen the resilience of supply chains,” Dombrovskis told the FT.

“If we want to reduce our dependence on raw materials from some providers, we need to broaden our base,” he said.

The EU is hoping to strike a raft of new deals including with Australia and Chile  — and recently reached an agreement with New Zealand. But the Commission has also been struggling to conclude and ratify deals, especially under the more reluctant French presidency of the Council, which wrapped up at the end of June.

“Having a wide network of FTAs is a source of diversification and thus a source of resilience,” Dombrovskis told the newspaper.