De Gucht vows will tackle trade barriers abroad

By: | at 07:00 PM | International Trade  

Europe’s top trade negotiator said he will pry open foreign markets to European firms and investors and enforce trade rules, a move critical for the European Union’s exit from economic crisis.

Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will expose and challenge later this month barriers to EU trade and investment in China, India, Russia and the United States, as well as Europe’s frustrations in accessing raw materials, which affect 10 percent of the bloc’s trade, he said in a speech to policy makers, trade analysts and executives.

“If we manage to deploy our instruments - technical, legal, diplomatic and where necessary political - to address these barriers ... we can make a difference and open possibly considerable new export and investment opportunities,” De Gucht said.

De Gucht’s speech comes as pressure rises for protectionism in the bloc, with crisis-ridden sectors fearful of increasing competition from emerging powers such as China.

A report on trade barriers will single out investment restrictions in the United States, China and Russia and red tape in India’s telecoms sector, he said.

A separate legislative proposal due later this year will aim to pressure the EU’s trade partners to open up lucrative public works contracts to EU bids, he said, while a free trade pact with South Korea set to launch in July will be followed by strict monitoring and enforcement of the pact’s rules.

“We will not walk away once a deal is agreed with our trading partners,” he said, adding EU officials will “monitor carefully how the Korean side implements the commitments made.”

The 27-nation bloc will also consider closer trade ties with neighbouring countries—including those in North Africa—“whenever the conditions are right,” he said. (Reuters)


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