European trade report criticizes U.S. barriers


San Francisco Business Times
By Elizabeth Rauber
August 3, 2009

A European report on trade detailed several new U.S. trade barriers introduced in 2008.

On July 27th, the European Commission published its annual report on trade and investment barriers in the United States. The report emphasized areas of concern for the commission, and noted several new trade barriers introduced in 2008.

One of the commission’s main concerns is the U.S. legislation regarding ports and freight, particularly the scanning requirements created by the Container Security Initiative (CSI) in 2002.

According to a European Commission official, the CSI and the newer related requirements present a serious concern for the European Union in terms of logistics and costs. The new requirements, which will be implemented in 2012, require EU suppliers to scan all containers in the originating port. “The costs are huge but it will not remove the problem,” the official added, since the security requirements will not prevent or check for changes in transit.

The commission’s report also noted new restrictions passed in 2008, including the Lacey Act, which deals with registration and documentation procedures, and the Buy America provisions, which deal with government procurement.

The report follows a statement on July 21 by Ambassador John Bruton, Head of the European Commission Delegation to the United States, which raised concerns about the Buy American provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

“We welcome and encourage the production of electric cars and similar green vehicles — an important part of our strategy to combat global warming,” said Bruton, “However, limiting financial assistance to American producers rather than allocating the resources to the best and most competitive manufacturers is both protectionist and wasteful. American tax payers would simply not get the most bang for their bucks.”

Bruton emphasized that the legislation goes against the commitments made by al G20 members and asked Congress to “rectify the situation before final passage of this legislation.”

According to the report, the EU and the U.S. are each other’s main trade partners and have the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world. The combined economies of the United States and EC accounted for approximately 60 percent of the global GDP, 33 percent of world trade in goods and 44 percent of world trade in services.

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