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European Union: European Commission Publishes First Report on Trade Barriers

(Mar. 14, 2011) On March 10, 2011, the European Commission published its first Report on Trade and Investment Barriers; it is designed to generate opportunities in exports and investment for European companies and individuals. The economic partners concerned include Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Russia, Japan, and the United States. These countries constitute 45% of the European Union's trade in goods and commercial services and 41% of the EU's foreign direct investment.

The report identifies 21 significant barriers in the markets of six of these economic partners, including China's indigenous innovation policy, India's plans to establish cumbersome licensing requirements in the telecommunications sector, the “Buy American” policy in the United States, and the new rules on investments introduced by Russia. (Press Release, European Commission Directorate-General for Trade, EU Sets Out Priorities to Dismantle Trade Barriers (Mar. 10, 2011).)

The European exports sector that is affected by the barriers represents approximately €100 billion (about US$138.5 billion). EU imports of raw materials are close to €6 billion annually. (Id.)

The report makes a number of recommendations to eliminate the barriers. Some of its key measures include:

· liberalization of government procurement markets;

· dispute settlement action facilitation measures;

· utilization of certain fora, including the Transatlantic Economic Council or the EU-China High Level Economic Dialogue; and

· raising the issue of barriers during bilateral summits with the partners involved.

The report will be presented to the European Council on March 24-25. The EU Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, emphasized that “[w]e need more than paper deals. … We need to ensure that the trade deals and rules we have negotiated with our partners are actually implemented on the ground. With today's report to the European Council we are moving the dismantling of trade barriers to the top of our political agenda.” (Id.)