BERLIN, April 13 (Reuters) – German companies are experiencing barriers to trade not seen since the 2008 financial crisis, a survey by the DIHK Chambers of Industry and Commerce showed on Friday. Some 40 percent of the 2,100 firms surveyed said they experienced higher barriers to doing business abroad over the last 12-month period, up from 31 percent in the 2017 survey. The survey was conducted in February, before U.S. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports and proposed duties on Chinese goods. China responded with its own list of duties on U.S. imports. Stricter certification and safety requirements as well as higher duties were cited as the main barriers to doing business. Despite the spike in barriers, a quarter of companies said they expected business to improve as the world economy remains in an upswing thanks to a recovery in the euro zone, North America and many Asian countries. Only 10 percent said they expected a deterioration. The steepest barriers were encountered in Russia, the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and China, the survey found. A trade dispute between China and the United States is also clouding the outlook for German exports, which fell unexpectedly in February to post their biggest monthly drop in more than two years. The DIHK said Britain’s expected exit from the European Union and Trump’s hostility to free trade continued to create uncertainty for German companies.

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