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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

The sustainable and unhindered access to raw materials is one of the pillars of the EU’s strategy for raw materials. Many non-EU countries apply measures such as export taxes, import duties, or price-fixing, which distort free and transparent markets. To avoid these distortions and minimise their effect on the EU’s manufacturing industries, the EU engages in a number of bilateral and multilateral dialogues.

What the Commission does

The European Commission developed a strategy for raw materials, which was outlined in the 2008 Communication entitled the Raw Materials Initiative. This was revised in February 2011 in a Communication which further boosted the integration of raw material priorities into EU policies.

EU Trade policy is committed to ensuring that international raw materials markets operate in a free and transparent way. As a response to trade policy issues, the EU strategy aims to:

  • propose to eliminate the export restrictions in bilateral and multilateral negotiations,
  • tackle trade barriers through dialogues and other tools including WTO dispute settlements and the Market Access Partnerships;
  • raise awareness in international fora such as the G8 (315 kB), G20, OECD, and UNCTAD. Recently, following the WTO ruling against Chinese export restrictions, China ended a quota system previously aimed at restricting exports of rare earths. This move was in line with a WTO panel ruling in March 2014.

See an overview of the different EU bilateral trade and investment agreements.

Bilateral agreements

  • The EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) includes the prohibition of duties, taxes, or other fees on the export of raw materials;
  • The upcoming EU-Singapore FTA includes the prohibition of duties, taxes, or measures of an equivalent effect on the export of raw materials.
  • The ongoing EU-Vietnam FTA negotiations aim to secure the prohibition of duties or taxes on a number of raw materials, including all Critical Raw Materials.

Multilateral agreements

  • The EU and Central America, and Colombia/Peru trade agreements include a prohibition of export duties or taxes on raw materials, with some minor exceptions;
  • During the WTO accession of Tajikistan, a commitment was secured on the prohibition of export duties or taxes on raw materials, except for a list of products with bound rate (the ceiling rates as listed in members’ schedules or lists of commitments);

Anti-dumping instruments


GROW-I1atec [dot] europa [dot] eu (GROW-I1[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)