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Snippet Contents:

This openness is one of the reasons international companies locate here and why Irish companies, particularly SMEs, do so well exporting and trading on the international stage.
The Government, while watchful of our own interests, continues to support free trade agreements where the substance and the detail are right. From Ireland’s perspective, the discussions on trade at the European Council were probably the most significant. EU leaders agreed on the importance of trade in creating jobs, growth and investment, and on the need to respond to today's challenges with an outward-looking and balanced trade policy. I emphasise that, on CETA, Ireland was among a group of member states that successfully sought its designation as a mixed agreement. This means that only those elements of the agreement which fall within the competency of the EU would come into force upon provisional signature. Those elements which fall to national competency would not be in force until national parliaments, including the Dáil, vote to allow that to happen. The Government, along with others, insisted on this for legal reasons. Furthermore, the investment protection provisions have been specifically carved out from provisional application which means that they will be implemented only when the Dáil has voted for them. We fully support the provisional application of CETA at the earliest opportunity. When it is signed, there will be an accompanying interpretative declaration clarifying that the agreement will not affect public services, labour rights or environmental protection. It is still hoped that the agreement can be signed at the EU-Canada Summit on 27 October. The European Parliament would then be expected to give its approval in December. The prospects for finalising the TTIP agreement with the US are, of course, much more difficult. It will not happen before the presidential election.
More generally, the Council also discussed EU trade defence instruments. They came to the fore due to a variety of global trade factors, particularly pressure on the steel sector. We do not have a steel industry and we, therefore, are consumers. I intervened on the broad question of tackling unfair practices, and I stressed the need to ensure policies designed to help the few do not harm the overall competitiveness of EU industry. This is particularly important for a small, open economy like Ireland, which is dependent on importing products. However, we recognise that unfair trade practices need to be tackled efficiently and robustly and we have engaged pragmatically on this item.
I will leave it at that. The Minister of State, Deputy Dara Murphy, will deal with Russia when he replies to the debate.