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  • Publicado : 9 de noviembre de 2011
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ALFREDO BONET BAIGET Spanish Secretary of State for Trade

There has been a remarkable increase in the use of Trade Defence Instruments by third countries since the beginning of the economic crisis, both in terms of initiation of new investigations as well asin the number of measures adopted. Although the use of these instruments is legitimate, they have to be applied in line with the WTO provisions. However, in the current context, WTO standards have been frequently overlooked and in an increasing number of cases poor standards at initiation and during the investigation have been observed. The indiscriminate use of safeguards is also of specialrelevance, as this instrument does not tackle unfair practices, but prevents exports of all origins from entering domestic markets. The European Union, the world’s largest exporter, has been adversely affected by these measures. EU companies are finding it more difficult to access third country markets, sometimes de facto closed due to the implementation of these measures.

Improving market accessto European firms in third countries has been one of the main priorities of the Spanish Presidency in the commercial policy area. Many EU companies, especially SMEs, are not aware of the existence of Trade Defence Instruments and what they can do to preserve their right to compete in third country markets. The Spanish Presidency has decided to promote the publication of this Guide to assist EUexporting companies facing trade defence actions by thirdcountries. I am confident that it will be a useful and valuable tool for EU firms involved in such proceedings. I want to thank the Commission services for the thorough work done in the elaboration of this Guide, and also EU Member States and stakeholders who have actively participated in this initiative by sharing their experience and providingthe necessary inputs.


KAREL DE GUCHT EU Trade Commissioner for Trade

In a globalised economy, EU companies have to compete on their domestic markets as well as on markets abroad. This is why so much of the Commission’s current efforts are focused on creating new opportunities for EU exporters and ensuring that they can compete and do business in foreign markets on fair terms. This iseven more important in the current economic crisis. It has reinforced the importance of international rules within the global trading system. Unlike others, the EU has stood firm against the temptation to introduce protectionist measures or use trade defence instruments to close markets, particularly in the fastest growing emerging economies. However, trade defence instruments are part of WTOrules. They are part of a wider understanding with our citizens that open markets generally bring opportunities, provided they are backed up by rules to ensure that trade takes place on a level playing field. When properly applied, trade rules ensure that all trading partners can compete on the basis of their comparative advantages and ensure that citizens and society come out as winners. This meansthat all countries should be able to act against unfair trade. But this must be done within a clear and transparent legal framework;

one which offers guarantees that rules are not open to protectionist pressures or political influence. This is the way the EU approaches trade defence. It is what we expect also from our trading partners around the world. Of course, much of the burden of suchinvestigations falls on business itself – whether the investigation is launched by the EU or by a third country. You are asked to cooperate on what are often quite technical and detailed enquiries and where you sometimes lack the necessary technical and legal expertise and experience. This is a particular challenge for SMEs. The European Commission is conscious of this burden when pursuing its own...
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