EFPIA statement on EU Trade Strategy

The research-based pharmaceutical industry welcomes the Trade Strategy published on 18 February and the recognition of trade as a key engine for Europe’s economic growth and prosperity. With COVID-19 impacting people across the globe, we need to mobilise all available resources to support the recovery of the EU economy, including ensuring that it remains open to the world.
As outlined in the new Trade Strategy, the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of global cooperation and well-functioning global supply chains. Conscious of the global operating environment, EFPIA believes that the EU should focus on continuously promoting open trade and solidifying and diversifying supply chains. This requires consistency between pharmaceutical, chemical, and environmental legislative frameworks as well as ensuring links between the Trade, Industrial and Pharmaceutical Strategies. In addition, this should be coupled with a financial and educational infrastructure that will ensure the EU is a competitive global location for advanced manufacturing, delivering high value jobs and a positive boost to the economy.
In this context, EFPIA welcomes the setup of the Structured Dialogue, as outlined in the EU Pharmaceutical Strategy. We look forward to constructive exchanges with the Commission, Member States, Parliament and other industry stakeholders across the value chain to discuss our vision of resilient supply chains and how to ensure security of supply while remaining competitive. EFPIA Director-General Nathalie Moll said: “We strongly believe in trade as a key driver for Europe’s recovery and ensuring the optimal functioning of global supply chains. We very much look forward to discussing the resilience of supply chains during the Structured Dialogue process, and we hope that given this new Trade strategy, DG Trade will also actively participate.”
We also see innovation as a key long-term driver for economic growth, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how critical a well-functioning R&D infrastructure is. R&D and innovation are core pillars for Europe’s global competitiveness, allowing our region to compete with other regions such as the United States and China, while delivering value to the EU economy and to patients. Given the central and increasingly important role of Intellectual Property (IP) in Europe’s economy as well as its ability to enhance the EU’s resilience to global health threats and address ongoing health challenges, we had expected to see a stronger focus on supporting innovation and IP in the EU’s Trade Strategy. We are glad to see, however, the recognition that trade will continue to evolve in a more innovation-driven way, supported by IP protection. This ensures a connection with the EU’s IP Action Plan where the EU commits stronger IP provisions in EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).   

We note that the EU is already a strong global player that stands for a rules-based global trading system and should continue to do so by co-leading WTO reform efforts. We therefore welcome the Commission’s focus on WTO reform as well as the European Commission initiative for a multilateral agreement on Trade in Healthcare Products, which we believe will be a positive vehicle for tariff liberalization, curbs on unilateral export restrictions and wider trade facilitation.
EFPIA is also supportive of the focus on implementation and enforcement of trade agreements with the appointment of the new Chief Trade Enforcement Officer (CTEO) in 2020. The EU’s wide network of FTAs is important to support global supply chains and their smooth functioning. To that end, it is key for the EU to implement and enforce existing FTAs and ensure comprehensive provisions on e.g. customs, procurement and regulatory cooperation in the negotiations. We also welcome the focus on strengthening the EU’s regulatory impact and believe that the EU should promote global regulatory convergence through its FTAs, as well as international regulatory cooperation, as referred to in the EU’s Pharmaceutical Strategy too. We are fully supportive of the Commission’s goal to “enhance regulatory dialogues with like-minded partners in strategic areas for EU competitiveness” and stand ready to work closely with the Commission to identify priority partners and areas for discussion. In this context, EFPIA also welcomes the focus on transatlantic relations and encourages the EU to continue to build on existing regulatory cooperation between EU and US, as well as on WTO reform and digital issues.
EFPIA notes that EU’s renewed Trade Strategy provides a unique opportunity for the EU to support and strengthen its industry vis-à-vis global competitors, create a level playing field and ensure strategic resilience so that Europe will recover and be prepared for future crises.

We look forward to constructively engaging with all stakeholders on these issues over the coming years.