Exporters face increasing trade barriers

28 June 2018
The tendency of some countries to adopt an increasingly protectionist stance to trade has seen a record number of trade barriers erected in the last year.

According to the European Commission’s annual Report on Trade and Investment Barriers, 2017 saw 67 new barriers recorded. That, the Commission points out, takes the total of existing obstacles implemented by just 57 different trading partners around the world to 396.

The largest increase in new barriers last year was seen in China (10), followed by Russia (6), South Africa (4), India (3) and Turkey (3).

In terms of the highest number of barriers in place (as opposed to those recently introduced), Russia leads the way with 36, followed by China with 25 and Indonesia with 23.

For its part, the EU lifted — either fully or partially — 45 obstacles to trade in 2017. The barriers removed spanned 13 key EU export and investment sectors, including aircraft, ICT and electronics, machinery, steel and services.

Commenting on the report, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that, as the world’s largest and most accessible market, the EU is determined to ensure that foreign markets remain equally open to its firms and products.

“As self-defeating and destructive as protectionism is, it is clearly on the rise,” she observed.

Since the financial crisis, there have been double-digit increases in barriers affecting EU companies abroad, the Commissioner explained, with technical barriers, unjustified customs delays, protectionist policies and other stumbling blocks costing EU entrepreneurs billions of euros every year.
Arguing that such a situation is as unacceptable as it is unjustified, Ms Malmström warned that, as protectionism grows, EU enforcement of trade rules must follow suit.

The Commission has the tools, she warned, and uses them effectively to eliminate trade barriers on foreign markets, bring dispute settlement action against other countries and impose trade defence measures in cases of unfair trade.

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