EU exporters face rising barriers

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European exporters reported a 10% increase in the number of trade barriers they encountered last year.

A new report from the European Commission reveals that 372 such barriers were in place at the end of 2016 in more than 50 global trade destinations. Of those, 36 obstacles were created during the year.

According to the Report on Trade and Investment Barriers (available at, those newly created barriers could affect EU exports currently worth some €27 billion.

The latest annual report highlights barriers to trade spanning a wide range of products, from agri-food to shipbuilding.

It shows that Russia, Brazil, China and India top the list of G20 members that have created the most obstacles to imports. The majority of protectionist measures reported in 2016 were introduced by Russia, India, Switzerland, China, Algeria and Egypt.

On a more positive note, using its Market Access Strategy, the Commission succeeded in removing 20 different obstacles identified as hindering European exports.

South Korea, China, Israel and Ukraine were the countries with which the EU was most successful in negotiations to restore normal trading conditions. The food and drink, automotive and cosmetics sectors benefited the most from the Commission’s actions.

Examples cited include China suspending labelling requirements that would otherwise affect the €680 million of EU cosmetics exports and South Korea agreeing to bring its rules for the size of car seats into line with international standards.

Warning that the scourge of protectionism is on the rise, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström described as worrying the fact that G20 countries are maintaining the highest number of trade barriers.

At the upcoming G20 Summit in Hamburg, the EU will urge leaders to resist protectionism, she promised.

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