The European Commission fully or partially eliminated 45 barriers faced by EU companies doing business abroad in 2017, a Commission press release states, even as European exporters reported a major increase in protectionism. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that in addition to keeping foreign markets open to EU firms and products, the Commission’s work “underlines that effective solutions can be found within the international rulebook.”

The press release states that the 45 trade barriers addressed in 2017 were more than twice as many as in 2016 and spanned 13 export and investment sectors, including aircraft, automotive, ceramics, information and communications technology and electronics, machinery, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, textiles, leather, agri-food, steel, paper, and services. In addition, EU companies exported an additional €4.8 billion in 2017 due to the barriers removed between 2014 and 2016, which the press release states is equivalent to the benefits of many of the EU’s trade agreements.

On the other hand, the Commission points out that “the worrying protectionist trend identified in previous years” continued in 2017 with the recording of 67 new trade barriers imposed by 39 countries, led by China, Russia, South Africa, India, and Turkey. There are now a total of 396 existing obstacles imposed by 57 different trading partners, the Commission states, with Russia, China, Indonesia, India, and Brazil having the highest cumulative stock of trade barriers to EU companies.

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