March 27 (Reuters) - G20 leaders pledged at their November summit to fight protectionism, yet 18 of their economies are named in a World Trade Organisation (WTO) report on measures taken in recent months that could be seen as restricting trade.
The report, published on March 26, includes bailouts and stimulus packages to support industries such as carmaking. The only G20 countries not listed are Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Here are some recent measures that have raised complaints of protectionism:
* ARGENTINA - Imposed non-automatic licensing requirements on products such as auto parts, textiles, TVs, toys, shoes, and leather goods.
* AUSTRALIA - Last December Australia marshalled local banks to provide funding worth about A$2 billion ($1.3 billion) to enable car dealers to find long-term finance after a decision by car-loan providers GMAC and General Electric Co to exit the local market.
* BRAZIL - Said in November it had instructed state-run Banco do Brasil to make available a total of 4 billion reals ($1.72 billion) so that automakers’ financing units could increase lending and spur sales. * BRITAIN - Britain announced in January it would guarantee up to 2.3 billion pounds ($3.29 billion) of loans to the car industry
- The EU’s internal markets commissioner has said some European countries were “very upset” about sterling’s recent losses, which makes British exports more competitive on price.
* CANADA - Unveiled an aid package on Dec. 20 that provided C$4 billion ($3.28 billion) in emergency loans to the Canadian arms of General Motors (GM.N) and Chrysler to keep them operating.
* CHINA - Frequent target of complaints that it blocks access to its markets or gives unfair help to exporters, including by keeping its yuan currency weak. A meeting of G7 finance ministers in Rome praised Beijing for allowing some appreciation of the yuan but maintained calls for the process to continue.
- China has put in place an import ban on Irish pork, as well as some Belgian chocolate, Italian brandy, British sauce, Dutch eggs and Spanish dairy products.
- On Mar. 19 China rejected a $2.4 billion bid by Coca-Cola (KO.N) for China’s top juice maker, Huiyuan Juice (1886.HK), blocking what would have been the largest-ever takeover of a Chinese company by a foreign rival. The Ministry of Commerce made the ruling on grounds that the merger would have been bad for competition.
- Increased rebates under the duty drawback system for exporters.
* EUROPEAN UNION - Imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese screws, fasteners, candles and steel wire products.
- Reinstated export subsidies on dairy produce.
- Imposed steep anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of biodiesel from the United States.
* FRANCE - Pledged loans of 6 billion euros ($7.6 billion) to struggling car makers PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) and Renault (RENA.PA) (3 billion euros each) in return for what has been characterised as an unwritten pledge not to close facilities in France. The European Commission has said it is satisfied the guarantees do not amount to protectionism.
* GERMANY - Unveiled a 1.5 billion euro aid package for its carmakers on Jan. 13. The package forms part of a 50 billion euro stimulus package of investments, tax relief and support for companies. Measures include incentives worth 2,500 euros for new car purchases.
* INDIA - Initiated anti-dumping investigations on some imported steel products affecting 19 countries. It also banned imports of Chinese toys for six months, saying it was in the interest of public safety.
- Increased rebates under the duty drawback system for exporters.
* INDONESIA - Limited the number of ports and airports serving as entry points for certain imports, such as electronics, garments, toys, footwear, and food and beverages.
* ITALY - Unveiled a $1.7 billion package for its car industry. Carmakers in turn have been told to maintain their plants in Italy and pay auto parts suppliers.
* JAPAN - Introduced special safeguard measures on imports of certain foods prepared with flour or starch and konnyaku tubers.
* MEXICO - Angered by Washington’s move to block Mexican trucks from using U.S. highways, Mexico said this week it would raise tariffs on 90 American agricultural and manufactured products, about $2.4 billion worth of exports from 40 U.S. states.
* RUSSIA - Raised duties on imports of used cars to prop up its struggling domestic industry.
- Set a new seasonal import tariff on rice of 160 euros ($202.4) per tonne from Feb. 15 to May 15, 2009 to protect domestic producers.
- Banned imports of pork from several U.S. facilities that do not meet technical standards.
* SOUTH KOREA -- Announced on March 26 plans to cut purchasing and registration taxes by 70 percent from May to December for customers buying new cars to replace old ones registered before 2000. The move includes measures to provide liquidity to auto financing firms to spur local car sales.
* TURKEY - Raised tariffs on goods ranging from certain iron and steel products to grain and dried fruit.
* UNITED STATES - A $787 billion U.S. stimulus package, signed by President Barack Obama last month, was criticised for its “Buy American” clause that says firms must use U.S. steel and other U.S.-made goods.
- The bill provided for a 25 percent competitive margin for US iron and steel for all expenditures under the bill. Several governments, including Canada and the EU objected to the provisions. A final provision also includes language that requires implementation to be consistent with U.S. trade commitments.
- A $17.4 billion lifeline to two Detroit carmakers was announced on Dec. 19.
- On Feb. 17, GM and Chrysler requested a further $22 billion in U.S. government loans as they submitted plans with the government on how they could restructure.
- On Mar. 26, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said his department was in discussions with other U.S. agencies on whether it was appropriate to revive dairy export subsidies as a response to U.S. surpluses.
- U.S. spending bill bars food safety inspectors from letting in poultry products from China.
Countries outside the G20 named as taking restrictive measures include:
* ECUADOR - Raised tariffs on about 630 products including butter, turkey, crackers, caramels, blenders, cell phones, eyeglasses, sailboats, building materials and transport equipment and imposed import quotas on others to protect balance of payments.
* MALAYSIA - In January Malaysia banned the hiring of foreign workers in factories, stores and restaurants to protect its citizens from mass unemployment.
* SPAIN - Approved a 4 billion euro ($5.17 billion) package to support its ailing car industry. The support would depend upon carmakers’ ability to guarantee jobs and would not grant aid to any company that has laid off workers permanently without first reaching agreements with unions.
* UKRAINE - Import duty surcharge of 13 percent on imports except for critical goods to help balance of payments.
Sources: Reuters; tradeobservatory.org; BusinessEurope; World Bank (here) (Reporting by Reuters G20 bureaus and Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)