Summary analysis of MFN tariff, 2011 

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Summary analysis of MFN tariff, 2011

    Applied 2011 rates
Analysis No. of linesa Simple avg. tariff (%) Range tariff (%) Std-dev (%) CV
Total 9,294 6.4 0-200.6 10.3 1.6
HS 01-24 2,251 15.0 0-200.6 17.6 1.2
HS 25-97 7,043 3.7 0-85.7 3.8 1.0
By WTO definitionb          
Agriculture 1,998 15.2 0-200.6 18.9 1.2
Live animals and products thereof   22.2 0-157.8 23.4 1.1
Dairy products   32.6 1-164.8 27.7 0.9
Coffee and tea, cocoa, sugar, etc.   15.6 0-120.6 15.7 1.0
Cut flowers and plants   4.6 0-19.2 4.4 1.0
Fruit and vegetables   15.0 0-200.6 15.1 1.0
Grains   21.6 0-70.8 17.1 0.8
Oil seeds, fats, oils and their products   7.3 0-159.3 17.0 2.3
Beverages and spirits   13.8 0-117.7 17.2 1.3
Tobacco   25.8 6.2-74.9 23.0 0.9
Other agricultural products   5.9 0-93 12.1 2.0
Non-agriculture (excl. petroleum) 7,255 4.1 0-26 4.1 1.0
Fish and fishery products   11.1 0-26 6.2 0.6
Mineral products, precious stones and precious metals   2.5 0-12 3.0 1.2
Metals 1,002 1.7 0-10 2.2 1.3
Chemicals and photographic supplies 1,247 4.4 0-17.3 2.6 0.6
Leather, rubber, footwear and travel goods   4.9 0-17 4.6 0.9
Wood, pulp, paper and furniture   1.2 0-10 2.3 1.9
Textiles and clothing 1,207 8.0 0-12 3.1 0.4
Transport equipment   5.0 0-22 5.0 1.0
Non-electric machinery   1.7 0-9.7 1.4 0.8
Electric machinery   2.8 0-14 3.2 1.1
Non agricultural articles n.e.s.   2.5 0-13.9 1.9 0.8
By ISIC sectorc          
Agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing   8.7 0-93 12.4 1.4
Mining   0.2 0-8 1.2 4.7
Manufacturing 8,621 6.3 0-200.6 10.2 1.6
By stage of processing          
Raw materials 1,142 6.8 0-93 10.2 1.5
Semi-processed products 2,764 4.8 0-124.4 6.8 1.4
Fully-processed products 5,388 7.1 0-200.6 11.6 1.6

a Total number of lines is listed. Tariff rates are based on a lower number of lines, since lines with no AVEs have been excluded.

b 41 tariff lines on petroleum products are not taken into account.

c International Standard Industrial Classification (Rev.2). Electricity, gas and water are excluded (1 tariff line).

Note: CV = coefficient of variation.

Source: WTO Secretariat estimates, based on Common Customs Tariff, OJ L 284, 29 October 2010, and IDB WTO database.

36. The tariff shows escalation between semi- and fully processed goods, and reverse escalation between raw materials and semi-processed goods (Table III.3). Tariff quotas cover around 5% of tariff lines (Chapter IV(1)).

(b) WTO bindings

37. The EU bound all tariff lines. In general, applied tariffs are at their bound rates. The average bound tariff rate is 6.4%.

38. The WTO certified Schedule of Concessions reflecting the EU's enlargement from 12 to 15 member States became effective in February 2010.[43] The EU's commitments with respect to agricultural market access, domestic support, and export subsidies to reflect the enlargement from 15 to 27 member States have not yet been formally agreed in the WTO and consolidated in the EU's Schedule (see Chapter II(3)).

39. The EU is covered by the collective General Council waiver suspending the application of GATT binding disciplines to allow WTO Members to implement the HS 2007 changes pending the incorporation of these changes into their schedules of concessions.[44] This waiver expires in December 2011.

(c) Tariff suspensions

40. The Council may approve "autonomous" tariff suspensions and quotas on the basis of a proposal from the Commission. These are temporary measures defined as "an exception to the normal state of affairs [that] permit the total... or partial waiver... of the normal duties applicable to imported goods".[45] According to the Commission, these measures allow enterprises to obtain supplies at a lower cost, thus improving their competitive capacity and stimulating economic activity in the EU. In addition to raw materials and semi-finished goods not available within the EU, tariff suspensions may cover finished products and manufacturing equipment, subject to conditions. Once an autonomous tariff suspension has been approved for a particular good, any person may import that good at the autonomous tariff rate.

41. Member States transmit requests for autonomous tariff suspensions to the Commission, which examines them with the assistance of the Economic Tariff Questions Group representing the industries of each member State. In 2011, 1.3% of tariff lines are subject to autonomous tariff suspensions, compared with 1.4% in 2008. According to the Commission, as a general rule autonomous tariff suspensions are opened for a period of five years, and are automatically prolonged if they are used sufficiently. The Commission notes that an early termination of these measures is possible if economic circumstances change; measures are reviewed regularly, and interested parties may request to delete them. Products covered include basic chemicals, components for the microelectronics industry, and components for heavy and industrial machinery.

(d) Preferential tariffs

42. The EU grants tariff preferences unilaterally or in the context of bilateral ore regional free-trade agreements (see Chapter II(4)). Based on data provided by the Commission, the Secretariat estimated the average tariff rates applied on the EU's preferential partners in 2011 (Table AIII.1).

(v) Other charges

43. In general, domestic and imported goods and services are subject to VAT in all member States, in accordance with the so-called VAT Directive.[46] VAT is assessed on the customs value plus duties, other charges, and incidental expenses for imports, and on the sale price for domestic products. VAT on imports must generally be paid at the time of customs clearance. Goods are treated as imports for VAT purposes if they arrive from outside the EU (within the meaning of the VAT Directive) or via another EU country without having been released for free circulation. Imported goods are in free circulation once the applicable duties have been paid and the customs formalities complied with.

44. VAT rates differ across member States. The standard rate applied by member States must be at least 15%, and member States may apply up to two reduced rates of at least 5% on 21 categories of supplies of goods and services listed in Annex III of the VAT Directive, including food, water, medicines, certain medical equipment, books, newspapers, periodicals, certain agricultural inputs, passenger transport, renovation and repairing of private dwellings, social services that do not fulfil the conditions for exemption, and admission to sporting events. There are multiple derogations to the basic rate structure, resulting in the application in member States of different combinations of rates.[47] Standard VAT rates cover about two thirds of total consumption, with the remainder subject to other rates.[48]

45. Member States may derogate from the VAT rules in specific circumstances and subject to Council authorization.[49] The Commission publishes a list of the derogations in force in member States.[50] In addition, under the VAT Directive, member States may retain "notified" derogation measures, provided these fulfil certain criteria and were applicable on 1 January 1977 and notified to the Commission before 1 January 1978.[51]

46. Domestic and imported alcoholic beverages, manufactured tobacco products, and energy products, including gasoline, natural gas, and electricity are subject to excise duties in all EU member States. Excise duty rates applied on these products vary across member States, but must be at least equal to the minimum rates established in EU legislation, which also defines the product categories subject to excise duties, and the basis on which they must be calculated.[52] A Council Directive adopted in February 2010 gradually increases minimum excise duty rates on cigarettes and fine-cut tobacco.[53] EU member States have not yet agreed to increase the minimum rates on alcoholic beverages, in line with inflation, as proposed by the Commission in 2006.[54] The Excise Duty Tables published by the Commission contain the rates of excise duty on alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and energy levied by member States.[55]

47. Under Council Directive 92/83/EEC, member States may levy reduced excise duty rates on beer and ethyl alcohol produced by small domestic breweries and distilleries, as defined in the Directive. Reduced rates may be lower than the minimum rates defined in EU legislation, but not less than half the rate of the standard excise duty on these products. Under the Directive, member States must apply the reduced rate on eligible beer and ethyl alcohol from other EU member States.[56] According to the Commission, although the Directive is silent on whether similar reduced rates should be granted on beer and ethyl alcohol from outside the EU, in practice similar tax reductions are provided in accordance with GATT commitments, usually on condition of a certificate of eligibility by the relevant national authority where the brewery or distillery is established. The member States that maintain reduced excise duty rates for small domestic breweries or distilleries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom.

48. Apart from VAT and excise duties on alcohol, tobacco, and energy, member States levy taxes on other goods and services. The European Commission maintains a public database on member States' main taxes in revenue terms, and a list of minor taxes.[57]

(vi) Contingency measures

49. According to the European Commission, "the defence of EU production against international trade distortions should be considered as a necessary component of an open and fair trade strategy".[58]

50. In January 2008, the European Commission concluded that "more reflection time is needed to seek the right answers to questions which were raised during the intensive and somewhat controversial discussion on the TDI [trade defence instrument] review process".[59] According to the Commission, this decision was taken due to the lack of consensus among member States and the European Parliament; the Commission continues to believe that the periodic review of its contingency measures will help to ensure their effectiveness. In this context the EU Trade Commissioner indicated that, once the economic crisis subsides, he plans to revisit "the question of whether our [contingency] instruments can be further refined, also in the light of any changes which may be required as a result of the Doha round".[60] During the period under review, the Commission and member States agreed on ways to improve transparency in investigations. As a result, during 2010 the Commission revamped the TDI website and improved disclosures in investigations, among other initiatives.[61]

51. Aspects of EU contingency measures were the subject of three WTO disputes during the review period. Two complaints were brought by China and one by India (Table AII.1).[62]

52. According to the European Commission, 0.6% of total EU imports were subject to contingency measures in 2009, the same level as the year before.

(a) Anti-dumping and countervailing duties

53. The main EU legislation is contained in Regulation No. 1225/2009 on anti-dumping (AD) and Regulation No. 597/2009 on countervailing (CV) measures.[63] The EU does not impose AD or CV measures on imports from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, except for fish and other goods that are outside the scope of the European Economic Area.

54. The European Commission is responsible for conducting AD and CV investigations. The adoption of AD and CV measures is subject to the new comitology rules that entered into force in March 2011. These new rules establish the conditions for control by the member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers under Article 291 TFEU (see Chapter II(1)).According to the Commission, these rules "will help to avoid the politicization of the process, leave less room for lobbying by any party or by third countries, and ensure a more robust trade defence policy".[64] Prior to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the adoption of AD and CV measures was subject to "special procedures in which the Council frequently had the last word".[65] In March 2011, the Commission issued a legislative proposal adapting several trade regulations, including on AD and CV duties, to the new comitology rules. The Commission's proposal must be adopted by the Parliament and the Council in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.

55. Initiations of AD investigations have fallen slightly since the previous Review of the EU (Table III.4). The number of new provisional measures increased while definitive measures decreased.

56. The EU had 125 AD measures in force at end-2010, slightly fewer than two years earlier (Table III.5). Imports from 27 countries or territories were affected. China accounted for 44% of total AD measures, compared with 38% in 2008, while India, Russia, and Thailand, each accounted for around 6%. Undertakings are in effect for nine products from nine countries. According to the Commission, the average duration of AD measures in the EU is between six and seven years; approximately 12% of AD measures remain in place for more than ten years.

Table III.4

Anti-dumping investigations and measures imposed, 2006-10a

Investigation initiations          
Provisional measures          
Definitive measures          
Expired measuresb          
Confirmation of measure following expiry review          
Termination of measure following expiry review          

a As at 31 December 2010.

b Measures that expired automatically after their five-year imposition.

Source: WTO Secretariat, based on European Commission (various years), Anti-dumping, Anti-subsidy, Safeguard Statistics. Viewed at:], and information provided by the Commission.

57. Around one third of the goods subject to AD measures in the EU are chemicals, 23% are base metals, including iron and steel, 7% are mineral products, and 6% are textiles, clothing, and footwear.[66] Some of the highest definitive AD duties that resulted from original investigations or reviews between June 2008 and June 2010 concern certain welded pipes of iron or non-alloy steel (90.6%) and certain prepared or preserved citrus fruits (up to 100.1%) from China, and stainless steel fasteners from Viet Nam (up to 707%).[67]

58. The EU can impose AD measures only if the Commission determines that the measure is not against the wider interest of the EU economy. Since the previous Review of the EU, no AD proceedings have been terminated due to a finding that the measure in question would be against the "Community interest".

Table III.5

Anti‑dumping measures by country or territory, 2006-10

Trading partner/region          
Chinese Taipei          
Faeroe Islands          
Korea, Republic of          
Macao, China          
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia          
Table III.5 (cont'd)
South Africa          
Sri Lanka          
United States          
Viet Nam          
Total number of measures          

Source: WTO Secretariat, based on European Commission (various years), Anti-dumping, Anti-subsidy, Safeguard Statistics. Viewed at:], and information provided by the Commission.

59. Initiations of CV measures investigations increased between 2008 and 2009, then decreased in 2010 (Table III.6). During 2010, the EU imposed 4 provisional measures and 3 definitive measures, compared with 1 provisional and 1 definitive measures in 2009.

Table III.6


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