Trade Barriers Regulation

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The EU Trade Barriers Regulation

Table of content
1. What is the Trade Barriers Regulation3
1.1 Definition of the TBR3
1.2 Scope of the TBR3
1.3 How can the TBR help3
2. The users of the TBR3
3. The Trade Barriers Regulation procedure3
4. How to prepare a complaint3
5. What can be achieved by a complaint?3
6. Experience of the Trade Barriers Regulation3
7. Examples3
8. Illustrative list of obstacles to trade considered in WTO dispute settlement and TBR Investigation3

1. What is the Trade Barriers Regulation
1.1 Definition of the TBR
EU companies face trade barriers every day in their international operations. These can include restrictions on sales in export markets, discriminatory taxation systems or difficulties in acquiring and enforcing patent rights in foreign countries. Such barriers hurt companies, workers and consumers. The Trade Barriers Regulation (TBR) is an instrument in effect since 1995, aimed at helping EU businesses overcome trade barriers and thereby develop their activities overseas. The TBR is specifically designed to remove obstacles to trade in third countries, as well as to tackle unfair foreign trade practices that cause injury within the EU internal market. 1.2 Scope of the TBR

1. The TBR is a legal instrument that gives the right to EU enterprises, industries or their Associations as well as the EU Member States to lodge a complaint with the European Commission who then investigate and determine whether there is evidence of a violation of international trade rules which has resulted in either adverse trade effects or injury. 2. The TBR is an instrument aimed at opening third country markets by eliminating obstacles to trade for the benefit of EU exporters. 3. The TBR has a broad scope of application that applies not only to goods but also to services and intellectual property rights, when the rules concerning these rights have been violated and had an impact on trade between the EU and a third country.

In the last decade dozens of companies or industries have used the TBR to tackle problems in export markets, as well as unfair foreign trade practices that cause injury within the EU internal market. TBR cases have helped improve export conditions for carmakers in Colombia, pharmaceutical products in Turkey, textiles in Brazil and in many other cases. 1.3 How can the TBR help

EU companies or professional associations alone can do little to tackle foreign government measures that negatively impact their business. That is why the EU has developed an instrument to provide direct access to the European Commission, who can then investigate the matter and seek the elimination of the challenged obstacles to trade. Any EU company or association of companies can use the TBR to complain about obstacles to trade in third countries (e.g. import bans), or about foreign trade practices causing injury on the EU market (e.g. foreign subsidies). Any EU Member State may lodge a complaint in respect of any obstacle to trade TBR investigations may lead to a variety of solutions, including a WTO case if it proves impossible to reach a satisfactory settlement with the third country concerned. The Commission always aims to reach a negotiated solution as this means companies and consumers see benefits more quickly than if long and costly litigation is necessary. An obstacles to trade is defined in the Regulation as “any trade practice adopted or maintained by a third country in respect of which international trade rules establish a right of action”. In this context, international trade rules are primarily those established under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or, since February 2008, those contained in bilateral Free Trade Agreements. The TBR is designed to ensure that the rights of EU under international trade agreements can be enforced in cases where non-EU (i.e. “third”) countries “adopt or maintain” barriers to trade. 2. The users of the TBR...
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