In the midst of the worst financial and economic crisis the European Union has ever known, one piece of the puzzle that would allow the 27 member states to step out of the torment would be to tear down all remaining barriers to trade, according to EU officials. Economists have admitted that many hidden protectionist measures are still in force both in the EU and more globally. The Danish Presidency will have the difficult task of dealing with the prevailing preferential treatments and subsidies certain countries have introduced to overcome the financial crisis. In an October 2011 report, the European Commission voiced its concerns over the rise of trade restrictive measures among G20 members, as the report found that 424 potentially trade restrictive measures remained in force, 131 new ones were introduced over the past year and only 40 were completely removed. Brazil was one of the main culprits, according to the report, but China, Russia and India were not far behind. The four countries, collectively known as the BRICs, will be the priority of the Danish Presidency in terms of market access an EU official told Europolitics. The Presidency will try to tackle the problem bilaterally, instead of seeking a multilateral agreement, since a Doha World Trade Organisation (WTO) deal seems to be at a dead-end.


Since the beginning of 2001, the annual rates of the BRIC countries' gross domestic product (GDP) per capita have increased between 2.6% for Brazil to a huge 10% for China. The economic power held by the four countries already represented 10% of the global economy in 2003, and according to certain economists, could represent 40% by 2025. The World Bank has even estimated that China could become the world's first economy between 2020 and 2030 if its annual economic growth stays unchanged.

Unfortunately, these BRIC countries are not known for their open markets. A Danish official told Europolitics that the Presidency would address this. "Market access, especially in the BRICs, will remain our priority" the diplomat said, adding that "we expect great outcomes at the February EU-India summit" as a way to go forward with bilateral trade. The February summit will indeed allow the EU to reach a political agreement with India on negotiations of a free trade agreement (FTA). The summit will be a "key matter for political momentum to take the FTA forward," an EU source said.

India, as one of the fastest growing economies in the...

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