Market Access

The Single Market in the EU is not only attractive but also open to trade in. The same is not always true of the markets of our partners. Despite the overall success in tariff reduction in recent years, major trading partners – especially emerging powers – tend to resort to non-tariff barriers to protect their markets from foreign producers and traders. This protectionism ultimately leads to the disadvantage of consumers in their countries but it also hurts European industries, supporters of free and global trade, as it undermines the global trading equilibrium.

As part of the EU Market Access Strategy the Commission has established 10 sector-specific working groups. One of the first Working Group focuses on tyres. This Group usually meets twice a year, bringing together the Commission in Brussels and its representations in foreign countries (via video links), member states' and the European tyre industry representatives. The Group looks for practical ways of solving market access barriers. Through its network in key markets we have been able to increase the visibility of our sector, which helps when addressing the numerous problems.

The European Commission, Member States and industry stakeholders would still have room for strengthening their cooperation focusing in key countries, utilising technical expertise and coordinating policy and business tools. Emphasis should be given to negotiations with third countries for making agreements enabling access to public procurements which for the time being are restrictive in most of the EU's major trading partners while at the same time the EU public procurement markets remain among the most open in the world.

Market Access Strategy has reached a point where it will have to focus more on tackling identified trade barriers (there were more than 200 trade barriers in altogether 32 countries identified by the first stage of MAS) than identifying them. This delivery phase has to be well structured and systematic as was the case with identifying trade barriers. If there is no systematic follow-up of found trade barriers the process might soon lose its momentum. Main focus should be oriented towards most important export markets, such as China, India, Russia and ASEAN countries.

Areas to be further developed are the contribution of Market Access Strategy to growth, competition and employment, enhancing trade opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises, continuing drafting monitoring reports and pushing for more effective international regulatory cooperation (although this area has already been addressed lot more remains to be done).

Key element is, however, continuous follow-up and evaluation in order to focus on the right barriers, sectors and countries and to make the best use of resources and gained experience. The Commission's intention to strengthen the early warning function of the Market Access Advisory Committee is very welcome to the Industry.