EU report highlights rising impact of protectionism on trade

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An EU report has highlighted a rise in the prevalence of protectionist measures affecting international trade.

European businesses are encountering a growing number of trade barriers due to a recent rise in protectionist policies, according to a new report from the European Commission.

The EU's latest Report on Trade and Investment Barriers has revealed that European exporters encountered a ten per cent increase in the number of trade barriers they faced during 2016, with 372 such barriers in place at the end of last year in more than 50 trade destinations.

Around 36 new obstacles were created in 2016, with G20 members featuring prominently among the countries that have created the highest number of new trade barriers. Russia, Brazil, China and India topped the list, with the likes of Switzerland, Algeria and Egypt also taking steps of this kind.

It is expected that these developments could impede European exports that are currently worth around €27 billion, which is why the EU has been taking action to try and dismantle these barriers before their negative impact can be felt.

As such, the European Commission was able to restore normal trading conditions in 20 cases affecting EU exports worth €4.2 billion in 2016, most prominently in South Korea, China, Israel and Ukraine.

For example, China's government was persuaded to suspend new labeling requirements that would have affected EU cosmetics exports worth €680 million, while South Korea agreed to bring its rules for the size of car seats in line with international rules.

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said: "We clearly see that the scourge of protectionism is on the rise; it affects European firms and their workers. It is worrying that G20 countries are maintaining the highest number of trade barriers.

"At the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, the EU will urge leaders to walk the talk and resist protectionism. Europe will not stand idly by and will not hesitate to use the tools at hand when countries don't play by the rules."