EU criticises 'sharp rise' in protectionism
by Daniel Mason
There has been a "sharp rise" in protectionism around the world, with the number of trade restrictions imposed by governments rising by more than a quarter in the last eight months, the European Commission has said.
In a report published yesterday, the commission blamed a "failure by the G20 countries to reduce trade barriers" for the introduction of 123 new restrictions – such as import and export duties – that have brought the total number of measures in place to 534.
"Clearly G20 members need to seriously step up their efforts to fight protectionism," said trade commissioner Karel De Gucht. "I am very concerned to see the sharp rise in trade-restrictive measures in the last few months alone. Let us remind ourselves that the G20 pledged to end such practices and that protectionism benefits no one. It sends the wrong signal to global trading partners, it sends the wrong signal to investors and it sends the wrong signal to the business community which relies on a predictable business climate."
According to the report – which assessed 31 of the European Union's main trading partners – there were on average 15 new restrictive trade measures introduced every month between September 2011 and May 1, 2012. That was up from fewer than 12 each month in the previous year. In the same period, a total of just 13 measures were removed, compared with 40 between October 2010 and September 2011.
"Emerging economies continue to resort to the highest number of trade-restrictive measures," said the commission. But it highlighted Argentina and Russia as particularly culpable. The report criticised the "unpredictability" caused by Argentina's decision to nationalise a majority stake in the oil company YPF, which was owned by Spanish firm Repsol. It also warned that Russia "may not be in conformity with its obligations as an upcoming member of the World Trade Organisation".
The commission urged G20 members meeting in Mexico this month to reinforce transparency and improve the notification of restrictive measures, sot that protection can be monitored more closely.
The commission is complaining about protectionism? The same commission that wants to shove ACTA down everyone's throats? Karel De Gucht is complaining about protectionism? The same commissioner who wants to shove ACTA down everyone's throats? The hypocrisy is hurting my brain. "Do as I say, not as I do."