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New WTO Trade Policy Review report of the European Union available

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Within the responsibilities of surveillance of the trade policies adopted by its members, the WTO recently published the 14th review of the trade policies and practices of the European Union (EU). The Trade Policy Review of the European Union (EU) is based on a policy statement submitted to the WTO by the EU on 10 December 2019, and summarises the developments in the EU trade policy during the period March 2017-September 2019 (review period).

The WTO report highlights a slight decline of intra-EU exports, totalling 63.5 per cent on total EU’s exports, against the 63.9 rate of 2017. On 1 May 2016, the new EU's Union Customs Code (UCC) entered into force, repealing and replacing the previous framework for customs legislation, contained in the Community Customs Code (Council Regulation EEC N° 2913/92) and the Code's implementing provisions (Commission Regulation EEC N° 2454/93). However, some transitional arrangements still apply, most notably because not all of the electronic systems to deal with formalities are in place yet, as some of them are facing delays.

The EU's single window initiative continues to be gradually implemented. A specific regulation on a European Maritime Single Window environment (EU Regulation N° 2019/1239) was also adopted to bring together all reporting obligations associated with a port call, including customs procedures for entry and exit of goods. The European Maritime Single Window will start applying in 2025 and is expected to have a major trade facilitating effect, as it will halve the time used by the shipping sector for reporting.

During the review period, the EU basic anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations have been amended by the EU with the adoption of two new Regulations. The first (Regulation (EU) 2017/2321 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017), allows for the use of alternative methods of determining normal value where there are state-induced distortions in the exporting country. The amendments made by the second regulation, adopted in 2018 as part of a comprehensive modernization of EU trade remedy legislation, are more numerous and diverse and concern both procedural aspects, such as the duration of provisional measures, and substantive aspects, such as the calculation of an injury margin. The EU continues to be a significant user of trade remedies, although the number of new anti-dumping and anti-subsidy initiations steadily declined between 2016 and 2018. The steel surveillance measure continued to be in place, followed by the introduction of the steel safeguard measure replacing this measure for certain steel categories in 2018-19. A similar surveillance measure on aluminium was put in place in 2018, citing the vulnerable position of the EU industry.

The EU does not impose taxes, charges or levies on exports. It maintains prohibitions or restrictions on the export of about 11 categories of products, many of which are applied pursuant to international agreements, such as CITES and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer. The scope of export restrictions on mercury was expanded, regulations on certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment were replaced and codified into a new regulation, and more stringent measures were put in place for raw ivory. A ban on exports of certain plastic waste to non-EU countries will apply from 2021.

The EU continues to regulate the export of certain products, pursuant to its export control legislation on dual-use goods. Such regulation was amended twice during the review period, and based on a proposal made by the Commission in 2016, a legislative process is still under way to upgrade the EU's export control regime.

Regarding sanitary and phytosanitary measures, a new regulation was adopted in 2017 on official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption. It includes rules for the performance of official controls and other control activities by the competent authorities of the member States, sets out the requirements to be fulfilled for the entry into the EU of consignments of animals and goods from third countries, and empowers the Commission to adopt delegated acts concerning those requirements. The Animal Health Law of 2016 (Regulation 2016/429 of the European Parliament and the Council of 9 March 2019) will be applicable from 21 April 2021, and the Plant Health Law of 2016 on 14 December 2019, except for certain provisions relating to a phytosanitary certificate for exports.

More on the WTO trade policy reviews








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