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EU Report Tracks Protectionist Trade Measures

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

25 March 2014

The European Union (EU) has made good progress in securing the removal of third countries' most trade-distortive barriers that hinder local companies' access to a variety of markets, but must continue to push for reforms, according to a new report from the European Commission.

The 2014 edition of the Trade and Investment Barriers Report (TIBR) assesses the progress made toward the elimination of trade and investment barriers faced by European companies, and is designed to raise awareness of the action taken by the European Commission to secure access to global markets.

The TIBR includes a separate chapter on the market access barriers established in Russia. It claims that more than a year after its World Trade Organization (WTO) accession, Russia retains a number of WTO-incompatible trade-restrictive measures.

In July 2013, the EU launched its first WTO Dispute Settlement case with Russia, to tackle a recycling fee on motor vehicles applying to imported cars. Legislation has since been passed by the Russian Duma which will require domestic car makers to pay the same recycling fee as foreign manufacturers, but the TIBR warns that its implementation will need to be carefully monitored over the coming months.

The report also explains that, "for a list of more than 150 products including meat, garments, refrigerators, used vehicles, car bodies, paper products and Information Technology Agreement (ITA) products, Russia has incorrectly implemented its WTO bound tariffs. Whereas some lines have been corrected on September 1, 2013, some issues still remain on products such as paper, car bodies, and agricultural products."

Access to the Indian market for EU manufacturers of telecommunication products and electronic goods in particular improved in 2013. The Indian Government has suspended the implementation of preferential procurement policies in favor of domestically manufactured electronic goods and telecommunication products, and postponed the mandatory testing and certification requirements for telecom network elements for security reasons.

In Brazil, a list, first applied in September 2012 containing 100 temporary exceptions to the Common External Tariff (CET), was terminated at the end of October 2013. A new list of CET exceptions planned for early 2013 was not enforced.

China has introduced customs and taxation measures affecting the logistics and shipping industry. In Japan, the Forestry Agency introduced a "Wood Use Points Program" in April 2013, which the TIBR claims resulted in discriminatory treatment of imported wood as against domestic wood species.

The TIBR concludes that "a number of recent positive developments suggest that progress is under way and that the EU's Market Access Strategy is delivering on many fronts." However, "new barriers are emerging constantly and the EU will continue to monitor these markets very closely with a very to applying a successful and targeted removal strategy."

It confirms that "to step up efforts to remove trade barriers in third countries, the Commission will not hesitate to continue using all available tools under the Market Access Strategy, including trade diplomacy, use of high level bilateral events, as well as of WTO Committees, and the enforcement of third party commitments via well-targeted dispute settlement proceedings."

TAGS: Russia | tax | investment | European Commission | India | tariffs | China | enforcement | Brazil | trade | European Union (EU) | Japan | Investment | Europe | Invest | Investment

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