USTR Details Issues And Progress On Foreign Trade Barriers
The U.S. Trade Representative has issued three reports addressing trade barriers for U.S. exports. Each report focuses on a subset of trade barriers, identifying existing significant barriers to U.S. exports and reviewing recent efforts by the U.S. Government to reduce or eliminate barriers.
The 2012 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (“2012 NTE Report”) addresses the widest range of trade barriers: (1) import policies (e.g., tariffs, quantitative restrictions); (2) government procurement; (3) export subsidies; (4) inadequate intellectual property protection; (5) barriers to trade in services; (6) barriers to foreign investment; (7) foreign anticompetitive conduct; (8) restrictions affecting electronic commerce; and (9) barriers that encompass more than one category, or that affect a single sector. The 2012 NTE Report discusses 58 countries as well as regional groups and other entities. One-tenth of the entire report, or 40 pages, addresses tariff barriers in China. In terms of merchandise trade, the report addresses China’s import-substitution policies, variable VAT rates, and export subsidies, quotas, duties, and licenses. The report also notes “inadequate protection and enforcement of IPR” as a barrier to U.S. exports and investment.
Since March 2010, the U.S. Trade Representative has addressed two categories of trade barriers in separate reports. The 2012 Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (“SPS Report”) focuses on trade barriers affecting U.S. food and agricultural exports. SPS measures are rules and procedures aimed at ensuring that foods and beverages are safe to consume and protect animals and plants from pests and diseases. The SPS Report focuses on such measures judged by U.S. officials to be unnecessarily discriminatory. According to the SPS Report, during 2011, U.S. negotiators eliminated specific SPS barriers in Japan and Korea affecting U.S. cherries and citrus, and barriers in South Africa and Sri Lanka affecting U.S. exports of apples and seed potatoes. Negotiations also addressed barriers in Kuwait and Taiwan affecting U.S. exports of poultry and poultry products and barriers in the United Arab Emirates affecting U.S. exports of beef.
The 2012 Technical Barriers to Trade Report (“TBT Report”) focuses on trade barriers that take the form of product standards, testing requirements, and similar technical requirements affecting the sale of U.S. products and services abroad. The TBT Report highlights progress on reducing technical barriers to trade as a result of passage of free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The TBT Report also attributes reduction in technical barriers to trade to discussions undertaken in the other multilateral and bilateral negotiating fora. In particular, the TBT Report notes that U.S. negotiators are pursuing reduction of technical barriers to trade within the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.