As part of its enforcement of international trade rules, the Commission services have concluded two examinations under the EU’s Trade Barriers Regulation (TBR): one concerning Saudi Arabia´s measures restricting market access to EU ceramic tiles, and one concerning Mexico’s measure affecting Tequila exports to the EU.
The Commission initiated an examination regarding Saudi Arabia’s trade restrictive measures on EU ceramic tiles at the request of European Ceramic Industry Association (Cerame-Unie). The industry complained that the implementation of new Saudi technical regulations were hindering 75 to 80% of EU exports, valued at EUR 120-150 million per year, and affecting many EU SMEs. In its examination procedure, the Commission has concluded that many aspects of these new Saudi technical regulations and the way that they are implemented raise serious concerns of compliance with WTO (World Trade Organization) law. The Commission will now engage with Saudi Arabia to ensure a swift and efficient removal of these barriers. If a negotiated solution to the market access barrier would not be possible, the EU could consider bringing the matter to the WTO.
In the case concerning Mexico, the Commission initiated an examination regarding exports of Tequila to the EU, at the request of Brewers of Europe. The complainant argued that the refusal by Mexico to issue export certificates for Tequila was WTO incompatible, resulting in several hundreds of millions of euros of economic damage for EU industry. The Commission’s examination found that while the measure raises concerns on Mexico’s compliance with WTO rules, specifically the prohibition of export restrictions, it is subject to a number of pending administrative proceedings that may lead to the measure’s revocation or modification. Therefore, the Commission will continue to monitor the outcome of the various proceedings and, depending on their outcome, it may re-evaluate the actions to take.
The Trade Barriers Regulation is part of the Commission enforcement efforts in the area of international trade rules. The Trade Barriers Regulation is one of several EU instruments available to enforce trade rules, alongside the new complaints mechanism under the Single Entry Point of DG Trade, and the possibility for the Commission to decide on its own (ex officio) to initiate investigations into possible infringements of market access rights or TSD commitments by third countries. The “Working Approaches to Implementation and Enforcement Work” guideline document sets out how these different instruments and working approaches are articulated in the Commission’s trade enforcement work.
The Trade Barriers Regulation is a legal instrument that gives EU companies, industries, associations and Member States the right to lodge a complaint with the Commission about trade barriers in third countries. If the complaint fulfils the criteria for admission, the Commission then examines the case to determine whether there is evidence of violations of international trade rules resulting in adverse trade effects or injury, and whether it is in the EU’s interest to act. If the procedure concludes that action is necessary to ensure the respect of international trade rules and to remove the injury caused, appropriate measures can be taken, which may include the initiation of dispute settlement proceedings. So far 24 TBR examination procedures have been initiated with regard to trade practices of a wide range of trading partners (e.g. Brazil, Canada, Japan, Turkey).
For more information
- Publication date
- 4 May 2021
- Directorate-General for Trade
- Trade topics
- Trade policy