Monday

25th Mar 2019

Trade protectionism still on the rise, EU research finds

  • Trade protection is still on the rise, an EU report has found. (Photo: dawvon)

A total of 170 new measures increasing trade protectionism were slapped on goods and services from the EU, according to new research.

The findings in the European Commission's annual report on trade restrictions published on Monday (17 November) cover more than 30 of the EU's main trading partners.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Russia, China, India and Indonesia were the main culprits, the report claims, adding that only 12 pre-existing trade barriers were struck down between June 2013 and 2014.

More than 850 separate trade defence measures, ranging from new import duties and tariff barriers to taxes and procurement rules favouring domestic firms have been adopted across the world since the 2008-2009 financial crisis sparked a sharp rise in trade restrictions as governments sought to protect their own firms.

Restrictions on imports and exports were the most used instrument, through numerous tariff increases, new import licencing procedures, reference values or minimum transaction prices, or banning trade altogether.

Russia was guilty of imposing the most import duties on EU products, the report found, while the US was most likely to tailor its rules on public procurement to shut out foreign companies from public tenders.

The EU executive argues that trade protectionism is self-defeating, particularly among emerging market economies such as Brazil, Argentina, and India.

"Hundreds of protectionist measures still obstruct world trade, and their number continues to rise," the report states.

"It is again mostly emerging economies which resorted to instruments protecting their markets, although they also benefit to the highest degree from a world economy open for trade in goods," it adds.

Since the collapse of the Doha round of multilateral trade talks aimed at lower trade barriers around the world convened by the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO) in July 2008, the EU has sought to champion free trade, opening trade talks with a series of countries.

The most significant negotiations with G20 countries are with Japan, the US, China and Canada.

However, despite its free trade mantra, the EU has also been embroiled in a much-publicised trade battle with Russia, with Brussels and Moscow applying tit-for-tat sanctions in July.

An EU ban on financial services used by some Russian banks and on sales of high-end technology to Russian oil firms, imposed because of Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis, prompted Moscow to hit back by imposing a ban on imports of many types of EU agricultural produce.

EU trade officials have also filed a series of complaints to the WTO in protest against Russian import duties on products including cars, paper products, and palm oil.

For its part, Moscow has also filed WTO complaints against the EU's energy rules and levies on steel and fertiliser products in the past 12 months.

Analysis

Can Europe afford a Russia trade war?

One trade expert has described the EU-Russia sanctions war as economic “mutually assured destruction”, but strategic considerations continue to trump financial problems for both sides.

EU commissioner lashes out against protectionism

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek on Tuesday lashed out at protectionism, implicitly targeting France. Ms Kroes said leadership did not mean "bribing multinationals" and "stealing jobs from one's neighbours."

Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem

Romania will move its embassy to Jerusalem, its prime minister has said, shattering the EU line on the Arab-Israeli conflict while the country holds the EU rotating presidency.

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Opinion

Russia and money laundering in Europe

After Danske Bank, both the US and the EU need to abandon the principle in bank regulation that it is all right to be a crook as long as you are big.

News in Brief

  1. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  2. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  3. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  4. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  5. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  6. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  7. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  8. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us