EU Will Be Looking For Foreign Trade Barriers That Shut Out European Exports

European Union says unfair obstacles to their trade in foreign countries are causing European companies to lose billions in lost sales.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The European Union said Wednesday it would set up an early warning system to watch for foreign trade barriers that it says prevent European companies from exporting to growing markets.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said barriers in China alone cost European businesses $27.1 billion a year in lost opportunities.

The European Commission said it would ask EU delegations and national embassies throughout the world to work with businesses to identify unfair obstacles to their trade in other countries such as national technical rules that effectively shut out foreigners.

The Commission cited Mexican legislation on diesel car emissions that did not recognize EU standards and Ukraine's high fees for imported pharmaceuticals.

As efforts to agree a new global trade pact stall, the EU is focusing on better policing existing rules, using both the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement procedure and the bilateral pacts it is negotiating and signing with a wide range of nations, following similar U.S. moves to secure American access to emerging markets.

''Having put them (bilateral deals) in place, we want to do more thoroughly in following through and enforcing these agreements,'' Mandelson said.

The EU's executive arm named no names, but Mandelson said they would have to prioritize certain markets or sectors - mentioning emerging economies and intellectual property.

The Commission said in a document that it needed to be more systemic to react to draft rules when they are proposed, allowing Europeans to apply diplomatic pressure to tackle barriers quickly and efficiently.

Mandelson said some rapidly developing countries were asking Europe to open up, but did not understand the need to reciprocate or the benefits of being more open to the global economy.

''We need to remain open to others but, by the same token, others need to remain open to us. There would be no point certainly if we were to make demands of others about openness behind protective walls of our own,'' he told reporters.

The EU said European companies had never been more dependent for growth on getting access to foreign markets, and were seeking to succeed in booming markets such as China, India, Brazil and Russia alongside other global companies.

Barriers to trade are changing, meaning that international talks to lift tariffs and import duties do not clear all the ways governments try to shield local manufacturers from foreign rivalry beyond the border, such as technical standards that discriminate against imports.

The EU said there was a difference between unnecessary barriers to trade and rules that could be justified to protect security, health or the environment.

Real obstacles businesses face include burdensome customs procedures, discriminatory tax rules and practices and technical regulators that were not in line with World Trade Organization rules, it said.

Europe's main business lobby, BusinessEurope, says unnecessary red tape at customs can add 5 percent to the price of a product.

The EU also repeated its opposition to restrictive government procurement rules that stop EU companies bidding for public contracts abroad, poor protection of intellectual property rights and unfair use of state subsidies.

 

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