EU sets out priorities to dismantle trade barriers


The European Commission today published its first Trade and Investment Barriers report which singles out important barriers in the markets of six strategic economic partners and proposes specific actions to remove the barriers. Dismantling these barriers would improve and open up new export and investment opportunities for European companies and people. The report will be presented to the European Council on 24-25 March.

“We need more than paper deals”, said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. “We need to ensure that the trade deals and rules we have negotiated with our partners are actually implemented on the ground. With today’s report to the European Council we are moving the dismantling of trade barriers to the top of our political agenda.”

This Trade and Investment Barriers Report is the first such annual report presented to the European Council. It follows a mandate from the EU 2020 strategy and has been announced in the Commission’s recent trade policy Communication “Trade, Growth and World Affairs”1 as part of a more assertive approach to tackle trade barriers. The report calls for removing trade barriers to become a cornerstone of the EU’s relations with its trading partners.

The report suggests concrete action such as the launch of an initiative to open government procurement markets, possible dispute settlement action, making the best use of high level fora such as the Transatlantic Economic Council or the EU-China High Level Economic Dialogue but also raising the barriers at the highest political level in bilateral Summits with the countries concerned.

The report highlights market access barriers in six of the EU’s strategic economic partners: China, India, Russia, Japan, Mercosur (Brazil/Argentina) and the United States. These countries together cover 45% of the EU’s trade in goods and commercial services and 41% of the EU’s foreign direct investment.

The 21 barriers listed cover a broad range of barriers such as China’s indigenous innovation policy, India’s plans to establish burdensome licensing requirements in the telecommunications sector, “Buy American” policies in the US or Russia’s new investment rules. The report also lists export restrictions on raw materials which harm European companies who incorporate raw materials into their products.

The European exports potentially affected by the barriers in the report represent around €100 billion and EU imports of raw materials potentially affected are worth around €6 billion. These figures do not equal “lost trade”, but they still give an indication of the trade volumes potentially affected by the barriers and the economic stakes involved

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