Displaying items by tag: Trade

On 18 February, the Commission announced its new trade strategy, one that is “open, strategic and assertive, emphasising the EU’s ability to make its own choices and shape the world around it”, according to Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis. The strategy was drafted after a wide public consultation, which included input from EBI based on its position paper on international trade.

The strategy contains several key themes. Firstly, there will be a focus on the EU’s green and digital transitions: the new trade policy will contribute to the objectives of the European Green Deal and will remove unjustified trade barriers in the digital economy. Secondly, it will prioritise the reform of the World Trade Organisation, for instance through restoring the WTO’s dispute settlement system.

Furthermore, the EU’s trade strategy will become more assertive, namely regarding the implementation and enforcement of its trade agreements. In that respect, it will fight unfair trade, address sustainability issues and ensure agreements deliver on benefits to EU stakeholders. Finally, the strategy mentions the need to reinforce the EU’s alliances, both with its neighbours and with the US. Related to the US, the strategy will aim at enhancing regulatory dialogue and developing a closer transatlantic partnership on the green and digital transformation including through the EU-US Trade and Technology Council.

Other actions envisaged are the conclusion of bilateral agreements with key growth markets, such as in Asia Pacific and Latin America regions. New tools will be developed to support EU businesses, in particular SMEs.

More information together with the full strategy can be found here.

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Monday, 01 February 2021 13:39

EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

The EU and China have agreed in principle to a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). The agreement aims to balance the economic relationship between both parties, given that the EU market has always been more open to Chinese investment than the Chinese market has been to EU investment. It will ensure a better level playing field, which the Commission says will give European businesses a boost and will help them compete in China.

China has made market access commitments in a wide range of sectors, including the manufacturing, which is the most important sector of EU investment in China. In these areas, China will not be able to prohibit market access or introduce new discriminatory practices. Specifically, the agreement sets rules on state-owned enterprises, on the transparency of subsidies, and against forced technology transfers. It will also be easier for EU companies to obtain authorisations and complete administrative procedures, and they will now be able to access China’s standard setting bodies.

The agreement also contains provisions on sustainable development, whereby China commits to not lowering environmental and labour standards in order to attract investment. Other Chinese commitments include respecting international obligations, promoting responsible business conducts by Chinese companies, or implementing the Paris Agreement, among other things.

The agreement reached in principle is just the first step in the process, since now the text must be legally reviewed and then ratified by the EU legislative authorities (the European Parliament and the Council of the EU). More information on the agreement can be found here.

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Thursday, 17 December 2020 19:36

Brexit reminder: key issues to keep in mind

The Brexit transition period will come to an end on 31 December. After this date, EU legislation will cease to apply in the UK. Although the new EU-UK relationship will depend on the agreement reached (if any), stakeholders in the boating industry will be affected in any case and should therefore be ready. Northern Ireland will remain within a special situation, staying in the EU Single Market. A notice for boating industry stakeholders on the legal changes resulting from Brexit is provided by the European Commission on this document.

Legal framework for recreational craft

The EU Recreational Craft Directive 2013/53, which sets out requirements for craft, was transferred into UK law as the Recreational Craft Regulations 2017, which mirrors the EU Directive while making necessary wording changes (e.g. removing references to EU bodies and replacing them with UK ones). The full text of the UK’s Recreational Craft Regulations 2017 can be found here, while a guiding document to help businesses that intend to place craft in the UK market (except Northern Ireland) can be found here.

Standardisation and conformity

EU harmonised standards for recreational craft (and for other products), which must be followed by businesses to conform with EU law, will remain unchanged in the UK after 31 December, although they will be now called “designated standards”. Designated standards for recreational craft are published here by the UK Government.

Under the UK’s new conformity assessment framework, notified bodies that are based in the UK will become “approved bodies” without the need to seek re-accreditation, and will be able to assess products for the UK market (notwithstanding Northern Ireland). The list of UK approved bodies can be found here. EU-based notified bodies have to apply for the same status and according to RSG two EU-based notified bodies have applied for the status of “approved bodies”.

In addition, the general rule will be that CE certificates will remain valid in the UK until the end of 2021. From 1 January 2022, CE-marked goods will have to obtain a UKCA (UK Conformity Assessment) marking to be placed in the UK market (notwithstanding Northern Ireland, where either the CE marking or the new UKNI marking will be valid). Please check here for detailed information and the specific application.

Manufacturers Identity Code

After 31 December, boat builders will have to register their Manufacturers Identity Code (MIC) on the UK register in order to place vessels on the British market if using the UKCA mark. It is advisable to do so in any case. The UK’s MIC register is managed by British Marine, on behalf of the Department of Business, Innovation and Industrial Strategy. To register a new MIC with British Marine, or to find out the manufacturer associated with a specific MIC, follow this link.

At the same time, vessels with a UK-based MIC can no longer be placed on the EU market, and hence affected manufacturers must obtain a new code from an EU Member State authority.

Tariffs and trade

After 31 December, there will be border requirements placed on the movement of goods between the EU and UK, and businesses importing or exporting goods will have to file customs declarations. In addition, business may need to provide security and safety data.

On top of that, if no trade agreement is reached between the EU and the UK, the UK Global Tariff will replace the EU Common External Tariff for goods entering the UK from the EU. The UK Global Tariff rates can be checked here. Likewise, tariffs will apply to goods moving from the UK into the EU.

There will be no changes regarding the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and EU Member States. For UK businesses trading with Northern Ireland, the necessary information can be found here.

Further guidance

On this page from the European Commission you can find information on getting ready for the end of the transition period, including a comprehensive Commission communication on changes after 31 December, as well as various sectoral guidance notes (on areas such as not only recreational craft, but also chemicals, consumer protection, competition, industrial products, inland waterways, maritime transport or VAT, among others). In addition, this checklist for businesses produced by the Commission also explains how to get ready for the end of the transition period. The UK Government provides information about the end of the transition on this page. Specifically, you can find guidance for EU businesses trading with the UK after 31 December on here.

For additional questions, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sunday, 29 November 2020 21:57

New European Commission trade complaints system

The European Commission has launched a new complaints system for reporting market access barriers as well as violations of sustainable development commitments in trade agreements. This comes amid a focus within the Commission on stepping up the enforcement of trade policy, and follows the appointment of the first Chief Trade Enforcement Officer in July.

Complaints can be sent by companies, trade and business associations, civil society organisations, EU citizens or Member States. They must include a detailed description of the existing problem, of any actions already taken to address it, and of the impact that either the trade barrier or the sustainable development breach might have. The Commission will then assess each complaint, and inform the complainant of whether enforcement action will be pursued, and if so, of what the steps of the action plan will be, as well as of a timeline if possible.

Complaints must be submitted through the online complaint form found on the Access2Markets portal, here.

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Access2Markets

The Commission launched a new online tool called Access2Markets, intended to provide companies with the necessary information on importing and exporting to and from 120 countries. Users must simply type the name or the Harmonised System (HS) code of the product they would like to import or export, select the country of origin and select the country of destination. The portal will then display all relevant information on tariffs, taxes, trade barriers, customs procedures, rules of origin, product requirements and relevant trade statistics. Boating industry companies that are trading internationally (or aspire to do so) can make use of this to receive swift and reliable information.

Specifically for goods traded with Canada, Japan and South Korea, users can also make use of the Rules of Origin Self-Assessment tool (ROSA), a questionnaire that will help them verify whether their products comply with the required rules of origin (more countries are to be included soon under this tool).

In addition, the website also offers general, user-friendly information on key issues, step-by-step guides on importing and exporting, and a glossary of key concepts, among other things. The information is presented in an accessible way and is available in all official languages of the European Union.

Access2Markets can be found on here.

 

For further support: Enterprise Europe Network

Companies from the boating industry can also obtain EU support by contacting Enterprise Europe Network. This is a support tool aimed at helping companies and in particular SMEs grow internationally and innovate. The network, which is available in over 60 countries (both EU and non-EU), is made up of 3000 experts from over 600 organisations, including technology poles, innovation support organisations, universities and research institutes, regional development organisations, and chambers of commerce and industry.

Through the Network’s website, companies can look up which of these organisations are present in their area, and seek support from their experts, who will offer free personalised business services. SMEs looking to grow internationally may receive advice on funding sources, exporting, EU standards, or protecting intellectual property abroad, among other things. Companies looking to innovate can be advised on innovation-related policies, relevant funding programmes, innovation strategy, intellectual property rights or innovation brokerage services, among other things. Finally, through the website, companies can also search for opportunities for international partnerships with other companies.

The Enterprise Europe Network website can be found on here.

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The European Commission has issued practical guidance to help companies prepare for the changes from 1 January 2021 after the end of the transition period. This mainly relates to the changes that will certainly take place, regardless of the future trade relationship. The guidance is important for companies in the recreational boating sector with business relationships to the UK. The guidance includes

  • Commission Communication on readiness at the end of the transition period (with information on customs checks, certification, VAT, etc.) – see here
  • Stakeholder notice for the RCD sector (updated in June – see here)
  • Stakeholder notice for industrial products (last updated in March – see here)

All stakeholder notices can be found here. EBI encourages companies to closely follow the recommendations and prepare for the end of the transition periods. Questions for clarifications can be sent to the EBI Office.

Published in Newsletter July 2020

The European Commission has imposed anti-subsidy and anti-dumping measures on imports of certain woven and stitched glass fibre fabrics originating in the People's Republic of China and Egypt. Together with previous measures imposed on the same imports in April, the combined duties are now between 54.6% and 99.7% on imports from China (depending on the producer), and 30.9% on imports from Egypt. The full decision by the Commission can be found here.

Published in Newsletter June 2020
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The EU Member States authorised the opening of negotiations for a new partnership agreement with the UK and formally nominated the Commission as the EU’s negotiator. The negotiations will be led by Michel Barnier.

The aim of the EU in its negotiation mandate is to achieve an ambitious economic partnership with the UK. The mandate emphasises that the partnership should be underpinned by robust commitments to ensure a level playing field for open and fair competition, which will be one of the contentious points in the negotiations. The aim is to establish a free trade agreement with zero tariffs and quotas to trade in goods, as well cooperation on customs and regulatory aspects.

The UK government has likewise released its mandate for the negotiations. Its main aim is a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement covering substantially all trade. It wants to achieve similar provisions as past EU free trade agreements, such as Canada and Japan. The first formal meeting between the EU and the UK negotiators is expected to take place in early March. EBI will be engaging with the EU’s negotiation team to provide input from the European recreational boating sector.

For the full negotiation mandate and further information, please click here for the EU’s and here for the UK’s.

The European Commission published its proposal for an EU-US agreement on conformity assessment for industrial products. A product exported between the two sides has to undergo an assessment to demonstrate that it complies with the technical and safety requirements of the importing party, the 'conformity assessment'. This means additional costs for exporters, which is especially burdensome for smaller companies, who may decide not to export at all because of those costs and complexities.

The EU proposal seeks an agreement under which the EU and the US would accept the conformity assessment results of each other’s assessment bodies, certifying products against the legal requirement of the other side. This would enable exporters to seek certification of their products in their originating country. The aim of the proposal is to make trade quicker, easier and cheaper, while maintaining a high level of consumer safety. The EU’s aim is to conclude an agreement as early as next year.

The proposal is horizontal and covers all relevant industrial sectors where third-party conformity assessment is required by either side. Below a selection of the sectors to be covered (full scope is included in the Annex):

  • Electrical and electronic equipment, including electrical installations and appliances, and related components
  • Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)
  • Machinery, including parts, components, including safety components, interchangeable equipment, and assemblies of machines
  • Equipment for use outdoors as it relates to noise emission in the environment
  • Recreational craft, including their components, and personal watercraft
  • Appliances burning gaseous fuels, including related fittings
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Equipment placed on board a ship
  • Restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment
  • Pyrotechnic articles

Please note that marine equipment is excluded from the scope of the proposal as it is covered by an existing mutual recognition agreement.

EBI has been following this process since the start and has now increased its engagement with the European Commission and US counterparts to advocate for the interest of the recreational boating industry. EBI is closely cooperating with its international counterparts ICOMIA and US counterparts NMMA to ensure that the global recreational boating industry benefits from this agreement. Interested parties are invited to contact the EBI Office for further information and input.

For more information, please see the text of the proposal and explanatory notes on the EU proposal.

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Tuesday, 01 October 2019 08:48

Brexit preparation

While the negotiations between the United Kingdom and European Union are ongoing, the preparations are likewise continuing on both sides. Under the current state-of-play, the United Kingdom will leave the EU without a deal on 31 October unless there are further developments. 

EBI urges its members to take careful note of the Brexit preparedness notices provided by the European Commission for the sector.
These include in particular:

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