The annual report on Trade and Investment Barriers, released today, shows that the European Commission has eliminated the highest number ever of trade barriers faced by EU companies doing business abroad such as elimination of administrative barriers for services in Argentina, removal of restrictions on copper and aluminium scrap, and paper in Turkey, removal of animal and plant health and hygiene barriers related to bovine exports from some EU Member States to China, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan, or elimination of certain restrictions on poultry exports from some EU Member States to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In total, 45 obstacles were lifted fully or in part in 2017 – more than twice as many as in 2016.
The barriers removed spanned across 13 key EU export and investment sectors, including aircraft, automotive, ceramics, ICT & electronics, machinery, pharma, medical devices, textiles, leather, agri-food, steel, paper, and services. Overall, this brings the number of barriers eliminated under the Juncker Commission to 88. “Thanks to those barriers removed between 2014 and 2016 alone, in 2017 EU companies exported an additional €4.8 billion”, welcomed the European Commission.
However, the report also shows that 67 new barriers were recorded in 2017, taking the total tally of existing obstacles to a stark 396 between 57 different trading partners around the world. “This confirms the worrying protectionist trend identified in previous years”, commented the Berlaymont. China displayed the largest increase in new barriers in 2017, followed by Russia, South Africa, India and Turkey. The Mediterranean region also showed a notable rise in barriers for EU companies. The nine countries with the highest number of trade barriers still in place are all G20 economies.
Commenting on the report, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström added: “Given the recent rise in protectionism in many parts of the world, our daily work to remove trade barriers has become even more important. Today’s report underlines that effective solutions can be found within the international rulebook. As protectionism grows, EU enforcement of the rules must follow suit.”
Photo: The “La Défense” business district at the western city limits of Paris, by night / Silvère Gérard / © European Union, 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service
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