EU lambasts Russia at head of global protectionist wave

6th June 2012, Comments 0 comments

Already locked in a trade dispute with China, the EU on Wednesday accused Russia of breaching it pending WTO obligations and other emerging economies of wilful protectionism.

Fresh from a battle with Argentina over the seizure there of Spanish corporate oil interests, an annual report on restrictive measures in global trade also highlighted "potentially trade-distorting measures" introduced or pending in Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Ukraine.

In the eight months to May 1 this year, 123 new "protectionist" measures were added with just 13 lifted leaving 534 in place overall, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht's office said.

In a 183-page report, the EU called on G20 leaders meeting in Mexico on 18-19 June "to take stock of their two-fold pledge not to resort to trade restrictive measures during the economic and financial crisis; and, to rectify without delay any measure introduced."

G20 leaders made that commitment in Washington in November 2008.

Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Russia were said to be operating "new industrialisation policies, aimed at shielding their domestic markets from international competition."

The EU added: "Notably Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Ukraine have recently introduced large stimulus packages to promote specific industrial sectors, combined with trade distortive measures."

With a population of half a billion and some millions of companies, the EU is the world's biggest border-free market.

But it faces a growing challenge on its doorstep from Russia, which is starting to build a customs union of its own in its former Soviet sphere.

"In view of Russia's upcoming accession to the WTO, this report confirms that Russia's recent actions may not be in conformity with the obligations it will have as a new member," the EU said.

Brussels highlighted a ban on imports from the EU of live animals, a possible reduction in border crossing points, approved bidders for certain procurement contracts, measures likely to discriminate against foreign automakers, duties on sugar, fresh fish, watches and petrol exports.

Further, the EU said that more than 100 billion euros of special state support to Russia's coal, shipbuilding and food processing industries are in the pipeline between now and 2030.

© 2012 AFP

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