As even casual watchers of world affairs and international commerce might have caught on to by now, protectionism — or, at minimum, complaints of protectionism — has been on the rise.
The current of protectionism has blown in many directions, from the U.S. Section 232 tariffs to the proposed tariffs on Chinese imports, not to mention the flurry of counter-tariffs (both proposed and actuated).
The European Union struck back against the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs this past week, imposing import tariffs on a variety of American goods, from steel and aluminum products to Harley-Davidson motorcycles. (The tariffs went into effect on Friday, June 22.)
Nonetheless, the European Commission touted a new report this week that claims it “has eliminated the highest number ever of trade barriers faced by EU companies doing business abroad.”
“As the world’s largest and most accessible market, the EU is determined to ensure that foreign markets remain equally open to our firms and products, E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said. “Given the recent rise in protectionism in many parts of the world, our daily work to remove trade barriers has become even more important. Ensuring that our companies have access to foreign markets is at the heart of our trade policy. Today’s report also underlines that effective solutions can be found within the international rulebook. As protectionism grows, EU enforcement of the rules must follow suit.”
According to the release, “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,” the statement reads. “Overall, this brings the number of barriers eliminated under the Juncker Commission to 88.”
E.U. companies exported an additional €4.8 billion in 2017 as a result of the removal of barriers from 2014-2016. Among those barriers removed were, according to the report:
- Recognition of safety standards used by the EU machinery industry in Brazil’s new safety legislation;
- 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;
- Elimination of certain restrictions on poultry exports from some EU Member States to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The full Trade and Investment Barriers Report can be read here.