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Trade defence | Brussels, 3 July 2019

EU extends trade defence rules to continental shelf and exclusive economic zones of Member States

Today, the EU published new rules allowing the EU to impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in case of unfair trade in goods brought to the continental shelf or the exclusive economic zones of EU Member States.

An exclusive economic zone is defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as a sea zone over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources. It can be located beyond the territorial waters of the state.

Apart from exclusive economic zones, each state also has special rights under the United Nations Convention over the seabed of its continental shelf, which is the shelf extending from the coastline of the state to a drop-off point in the ocean.

Until now, EU customs rules only allowed trade defence measures to be applied to goods imported into the customs territory of the Union. The rules did not apply to goods brought to the continental shelf or exclusive economic zones of EU Member States, for instance for the exploitation of natural resources such as extraction of oil and gas and off-shore windmills.

This new customs tool is part of the modernisation package of trade defence policy measures adopted in 2018 and aligns EU policy with that of other trading partners such as the United States, India and Brazil. It will further strengthen the EU’s ability to protect its industry against unfair trade.

The European Commission developed the customs tool together with the customs authorities of EU Member States so as to ensure its effective implementation. It will only become applicable 4 months from today (the date of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union), so as to give national customs authorities time to put in place the necessary administrative procedures.

Only new investigations or interim reviews of existing activities initiated after 3 November 2019 will be concerned by the change, where the conditions laid down in the legislation are met. The investigations will also let the Commission assess the economic impact of this new policy.

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