BRUSSELS: European Union trade chiefs urged major partners including China, Russia and Brazil Monday to respect G20 commitments to roll back an alarming rise in protectionist barriers.
A new report released by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht identified "more than 330 trade restrictive measures" taken across 30 key economic rivals since the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis in late-2008.
Sixty-six of these came between May and September 2010, and only 10 percent of measures introduced since the crisis have been withdrawn, it said as the EU steps up its rhetoric against 1930s-style protectionism.
In the midst of fragile global economic recovery and "contrary" to commitments made by the Group of 20 major and emerging nations, "a mere 10 percent of those measures have been removed," the report said.
"The world’s major economies must remove the trade restrictive measures that put a brake on growth," said De Gucht in a message aimed squarely at next month’s G20 summit in South Korea.
"For the world economy to move forward, we have to roll back these barriers. The G20 summit in Seoul needs to demonstrate leadership in this respect," he underlined.
The 27 EU national leaders are expected to sign up to a declaration at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday that "stresses the necessity to avoid all forms of protectionism and to avoid engaging in exchange rate moves aimed at gaining short term competitive advantage."
Covering a two-year period from October 2008 to September 2010, the European Commission highlighted import bans, tariff increases and "buy national" schemes, saying they were "rapidly becoming permanent features of the world trading system."
The G20 summit in Washington in November 2008 committed to a "self-imposed standstill," De Gucht’s office said, while the April 2009 London summit went further, vowing to "rectify" existing measures.
"Russia is once again confirmed as the trading partner with the most trade restrictive measures taken since the start of the crisis," the commission said, with Brazil pinpointed as the biggest "buy national" offender.
The countries covered by the commission research were: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States and Vietnam.