Trade barriers: EU removes record number in response to surge in protectionism

The annual report on Trade and Investment Barriers, released today, shows that the European Commission eliminated in 2017 the highest number ever of trade barriers faced by EU companies doing business abroad.

European exporters reported a major increase in protectionism in 2017. Commenting on the report, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “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. 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.” Thanks to the EU’s enhanced Market Access Strategy, 45 obstacles were lifted 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 report also shows that 67 new barriers were recorded in 2017, taking the total tally of existing obstacles to 396 worldwide. This confirms the worrying protectionist trend identified in previous years. China displayed the largest increase in new barriers in 2017, followed by Russia, South Africa, India and Turkey. The Report on Trade and Investment Barriers has been published annually since the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis. In its “Trade for All” strategy, the Commission has made enforcement of trade rules a top priority. For more information and specific examples see the press release, the factsheet and a case study.