There has been an increase in the number of trade barriers faced by European companies engaged in global trade, according to a report by the European Commission released on Monday. Brussels identified 45 new trade barriers outside the EU in 2018, bringing the total number to a record high of 425 in 59 countries.
Although this is lower than the number of barriers raised in 2017 (67) their economic impact was greater, resulting in more than 50 billion euros in losses to European exporters.
The Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, said: “In the complex context we have today with an increasing number of trade tensions and protectionist measures, the EU must continue to defend the interests of its companies in global markets.”
The Commission mentioned the US special tariffs on EU steel and aluminum exports as an example of new tariffs that have been raised, but Malmström emphasised that most trade and investment barriers affecting EU companies come not from the US but from China and Russia. The EU recently counted around 37 ‘problematic measures’ in China and 34 in Russia.
At the same time, the EU Commissioner pointed out that the current Commission, which took office at the end of 2014, has succeeded in eliminating 123 barriers that would have affected the export opportunities of the Member States.
In the 2018 alone, this allowed additional exports worth 6 billion euros. As examples of trade barriers eliminated in the course of 2018, the report cites, among others, Chinese import restrictions on beef and sheep products, tariffs on electronic goods in India and restrictions on wine and spirits in Japan.
The Commission also highlighted the continued expansion of free trade thanks to the signing of 41 agreements with 72 countries in recent years, including an agreement between the European Union and Japan that entered into force earlier this year, creating the largest free trade area in the world.