The European Commission has eliminated a record number of trade barriers faced by EU companies doing business abroad, according to the annual report on Trade and Investment Barriers.

Commenting on the report, which was released on June 26, the EU’s Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “As the world’s largest and most accessible market, the EU is determined to ensure that foreign markets remain equally open to our firms and products. Given the recent rise in protectionism in many parts of the world, our daily work to remove trade barriers has become even more important. Ensuring that our companies have access to foreign markets is at the heart of our trade policy. Today’s report also underlines that effective solutions can be found within the international rulebook. As protectionism grows, EU enforcement of the rules must follow suit.”

A total 45 obstacles were lifted fully or in part last year – more than twice as many as in 2016.

According to a European Commission press release, the barriers removed spanned across 13 key EU export and investment sectors, including aircraft, automotive, ceramics, ICT & electronics, machinery, pharma, medical devices, textiles, leather, agri-food, steel, paper, and services. Overall, this brings the number of barriers eliminated under the Juncker Commission to 88.

Thanks to those barriers removed between 2014 and 2016 alone, in 2017 EU companies exported an additional €4.8bn. This is the equivalent to the benefits of many of our trade agreements.

However, the report also showed that 67 new barriers were recorded in 2017, taking the total tally of existing obstacles to a stark 396 between 57 different trading partners around the world.

In a separate report, CNBC noted that the EU is preparing a set of measures to protect its steel and aluminium producers following the US tariffs recently imposed on its metals industry.

“We are working very closely with the industry to see whether steel or aluminium intended for the US market is coming to Europe and whether that is affecting the market, dumping prices and so on,” Malmström told reporters in Brussels.

“This is an investigation that will probably take until the end of the year before we get the full picture, but as you say, we are seriously contemplating to have provisional measures into place.”

According to Malmström, these could come in mid-July but their format “is still in discussion”.