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EU reports about progress in fight against protectionism

Accessing markets Brussels, 20 March 2014

In 2013, the EU made good progress towards removing some of the most trade-distortive barriers that hinder EU companies’ access to the markets of China, India, Japan, Mercosur (Brazil/Argentina), Russia and the US, whereas some deep-rooted protectionist barriers still persist in some countries. This is the result of the Trade and Investment Barriers Report (TIBR) that the European Commission will today present to the European Council. This fourth edition of the report describes progress made in 2013 on barriers identified in previous editions and analyses some of the most serious new measures put in place. The EU will continue to use its Market Access Strategy to address the obstacles and expand trade and investment opportunities for EU businesses.

'Today's report shows that we can make progress on removing trade barriers that make it difficult for EU companies to do business in these countries,' said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. 'But it also demonstrates that we need to be vigilant and that keeping export markets open requires a constant effort!'

Examples where the European Union made progress towards eliminating some of the most trade-distortive barriers on the markets of the EU's strategic partners include:

  • In May 2013 China introduced discriminatory customs and taxation measures affecting the logistics and shipping industry. The EU together – with local partners – had a constructive dialogue with the Chinese authorities to resolve the problem. In December 2013, China issued a new circular correcting the discriminatory elements in the original taxation measures.
  • Access to the Indian market for EU manufacturers of telecommunication products and electronic goods has improved in 2013. For example, the Indian government has suspended the implementation of preferential procurement policies in favour of domestically manufactured electronic goods and telecommunication products. It has also postponed the mandatory testing and certification requirements for telecom network elements for security reasons and has introduced changes in its investment rules which open the possibility for 100% foreign ownership in the telecoms sector.
  • For Brazil, progress has been made on the list of 100 temporary exceptions to the Common External Tariff (CET). The list, applied in September 2012, was terminated at the end of October 2013. Even more importantly, a new list of 100 CET exceptions planned for early 2013 was in the end not enforced.

Several barriers outlined in the previous three editions of the TIBR persist, however, and continue to significantly hamper market access for EU firms. In addition, the EU's strategic partners have taken a number of new trade-restrictive measures. These are highlighted in this year’s report:

For example, in April 2013 the Japanese Forestry Agency introduced a “Wood Use Points Program” which results in discriminatory treatment of imported wood towards domestic wood species. So far, most approvals have been for Japanese wood species while most applications submitted for foreign species from EU Member States have been rejected.

The 2014 TIBR includes a separate chapter on market access barriers established by Russia. More than a year after its WTO accession, Russia still has a large number of WTO-incompatible trade-restrictive measures in place. One recent example is the Russian ban on imports of live pigs and pork products from the entire EU following the detection of isolated cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in wild boars close to the Belorussian border. The Trade and Investment Barriers Report will be presented to the European Council on 20-21 March 2014.


The Trade and Investment Barriers Report is part of a broader EU trade enforcement strategy set out in the 2010 Commission Communication Trade, Growth and World Affairs. The updated document has been presented to the Spring European Council every year since 2011. Its purpose is to assess progress towards eliminating trade and investment barriers faced by European companies and to raise awareness of the action taken by the European Commission to secure access to global markets for European firms.

For more information

Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2014

Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2013

The Market Access Strategy