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EU Solicits Input from SMEs on U.S. Trade Barriers

Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Union announced March 31 plans to gather input from EU small and medium-sized enterprises on the trade barriers they face in the U.S. This information will aid Brussels in its work to address these barriers and increase the participation of SMEs in U.S.-EU trade through an eventual Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. As part of a similar effort, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued last week an extensive report on the trade barriers that U.S. SMEs face in Europe.

In advance of this information gathering process, the EU has been in contact with a range of SMEs and their representatives to get a preliminary view of their concerns regarding U.S. trade barriers, which include the following.

- a lack of consistency in the way U.S. government-approved laboratories measure pesticide residue levels in fruit juice

- an approval program for dairy products (known as the Grade A system) that is extremely difficult for foreign companies to comply with

- outdated requirements specifying particular types of machinery and piping in dairies

- ineligibility of small EU breweries for a reduced federal excise duty that applies to their U.S. counterparts and a requirement for them to go through an importer to access the U.S. market

- a requirement for qualified European engineers who want to offer their services in the U.S. to register with each state they want to work in

- the Jones Act, which bans foreign service providers not only from U.S. domestic shipping services but also from high-tech support sectors like dredging and ice breaking

- burdensome customs requirements for shipping demonstration products

- the use of separate standards for electronic components, which requires companies to have their products tested twice  

- lack of recognition by the U.S. and EU of each other’s inspections of pharmaceutical firms to verify compliance with a common set of good manufacturing practices

- an 8% import duty on some parquet flooring panels, which remains in place despite a prior commitment in the WTO to eliminate it

- high tariffs in the textile, apparel and footwear sectors

- customs formalities for makers of pianos, who have to submit a detailed wood list, and makers of eyeglasses, whose products are often held for inspection by U.S. authorities for up to six weeks

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