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Foreign Trade Barriers are Topic of Annual USTR Inquiry

Monday, August 19, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is seeking input by Oct. 22 for its annual national trade estimate report on foreign trade barriers. Comments may be submitted with respect to one or more of the following categories of trade barriers.

- import policies (e.g., tariffs and other import charges, quotas, import licensing and customs barriers)

- government procurement restrictions (e.g., “buy national” policies and closed bidding)

- export subsidies (e.g., export financing on preferential terms and agricultural export subsidies that displace U.S. exports in third country markets)

- lack of intellectual property rights protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright and trademark regimes or enforcement issues)

- services barriers (e.g., limits on the range of financial services offered by foreign financial institutions, regulation of international data flows, restrictions on the use of data processing, quotas on imports of foreign films, and barriers to the provision of services by professionals)

- investment barriers (e.g., limitations on foreign equity participation and on access to foreign government-funded research and development consortia; local content, technology transfer and export performance requirements; and restrictions on repatriation of earnings, capital, fees and royalties)

- anticompetitive conduct of state-owned or private firms tolerated by foreign governments that restricts the sale or purchase of U.S. goods or services in the foreign country’s markets

- trade restrictions affecting e-commerce (e.g., tariff and non-tariff measures, burdensome and discriminatory regulations and standards, and discriminatory taxation)

- other barriers, including barriers that encompass more than one category, such as bribery and corruption, or that affect a single sector

The USTR is particularly interested in practices that may violate U.S. trade agreements as well as information on new barriers and new or updated information pertaining to the barriers covered in its 2013 NTE report. Commenters are also invited to identify those barriers that may operate as “localization barriers to trade;” i.e., measures designed to protect, favor or stimulate domestic industries, services providers and/or intellectual property at the expense of goods, services or intellectual property from other countries.

The USTR adds that in 2014 it will once again release in conjunction with the NTE report two reports dealing with additional trade barriers, one on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and the other on standards-related measures. Public input on issues related to these two reports will be requested through a separate Federal Register notice, and information regarding such measures should therefore not be submitted at this time.

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