Could one have thought that someday Europe would act more in favor of free markets and free trade than the United States? Although such a question originates from theoretical considerations that set aside the many trade defense tactics used by the United States for decades, it relates to the pace at which the European Commission (EC) eliminates trade barriers.
Once again, mainstream perception might have told you something that largely differs from statistical reality. According to its latest annual report on Trade and Investment Barriers, the EC asserts it has “eliminated the highest number ever of trade barriers (45 in 2017, up from 22 in 2016) faced by EU companies doing business abroad” and thanks to barriers removed in 2014-2016, “European companies exported an additional EUR 4.8 billion.”
At the same time, “European exporters reported a major increase in protectionism in 2017” with 67 barriers. More importantly and contrary to what many may have thought, most the new barriers didn’t result from Donald Trump’s trade policy but from China “that displayed the largest increase in new barriers in 2017, followed by Russia, South Africa, India and Turkey.”
The EC pointed out in a factsheet that China and Russia built 10 and 7 new trade barriers respectively while the USA built none.
However, a Market Access Database (MADB) chart in the EC’s report shows that the USA still ranks as the 8th country with most trade and investment barriers with 20 of them ex aequo with ROK, Turkey; still less than Russia (36), China (25), Indonesia (23), India (21) and Brazil (21).
Cyceon anticipates that ”the figures about the USA’s new trade barriers may potentially change significantly in the next 2018 report since Donald Trump has proposed new tariffs for Europe especially in the car industry.”