E.U Shipowners Concerned About Trade Protectionism
European shipowners have voiced concern that protectionism in world trade is on the rise. That is the main conclusion from a recent study by the European Commission’s Trade department. The study gives an overview of protectionist tendencies and main trade barriers in some of the E.U.'s key economic partners. The study shows that 200 new protectionist measures were adopted in the 31 monitored countries while at the same time hardly any protectionist measures hindering trade had been resolved.
The report highlights that emerging economies are responsible for roughly half of all new trade-restrictive measures introduced between June 2014 and December 2015. However, developed countries, including some G20 members, also continue to adopt such measures, in spite of repeated pledges against protectionism.
“This is a worrying trend for shipping, being the vector of international trade. Any burdens to international trade have a direct negative impact on our sector”, says Patrick Verhoeven, Secretary General of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA). “We therefore ask the European Commission to develop a strong E.U. external maritime agenda, as part of the upcoming maritime transport package in 2017. Such an agenda should encompass free trade agreements as well as structured, bilateral maritime dialogues with key third countries.”
ECSA hopes that ongoing and concluded free trade discussions will be accelerated and ratified as soon as possible, such as CETA, TTIP, TiSA and the EU-Japan FTA. They have proved to create a better and more stable environment for shipping companies and other economic partners. They create more opportunities in terms of trade, growth and jobs for both the EU and the concerned third countries.
Free trade cannot be taken for granted, says ECSA. The E.U. nevertheless has the tools to ensure E.U. companies and citizens can enjoy an open trade environment. With the European Commission’s recent strategy “Trade for all” and last week’s adopted “Global strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy” the E.U. continues to push for an open, cooperative global partnership with other countries.
ECSA’s proposal for a review of E.U. shipping policy makes 16 policy proposals:
• Benchmark E.U. shipping clusters against successful global maritime centers
• Secure access for E.U. shipping to markets overseas
• Facilitate trusted partnerships in IMO and other international fora
• Stimulate early ratification of international conventions
• Identify all barriers that prevent the establishment of true Motorways of the Sea
• Complete the Single Market for shipping
• Simplify procedures for regular short sea services with third countries
• Ensure market access to port services and guarantee free movement of goods
• Devise competition-neutral ways to financially stimulate short sea shipping
• Devise a holistic approach recognizing the superior energy-efficiency of shipping
• Establish simple, tailored and technology-neutral access to E.U. funding
• Support the training of seafarers and apprenticeships of cadets in Europe
• Secure a specific program for shipping under youth employment priorities
• Establish an EU platform for best practices on promoting maritime careers
• Increase attractiveness of working at sea by reducing administrative burden
• Strengthen support for social dialogue