Foreign Trade Barriers are Focus of Annual USTR Inquiry
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is seeking input by Oct. 28 for its annual national trade estimate report on significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods, services and direct investment. 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)
- 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, unnecessary or discriminatory technical regulations or
standards for telecommunications services, and barriers to the provision of services by
- 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)
- trade restrictions implemented through unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary measures, including those justified for purposes of protecting food safety and animal and plant life or health
- trade restrictions implemented through unwarranted standards, conformity assessment procedures or technical regulations that may have as their objective protecting national security requirements, preventing deceptive practices, or protecting human health or safety, animal or plant life or health, or the environment but that can be formulated or implemented in ways that create significant barriers to trade (including unnecessary or discriminatory technical regulations or standards for telecommunications products)
- other barriers, including barriers that encompass more than one category, such as bribery and corruption, or that affect a single sector
USTR is particularly interested in practices that may violate U.S. trade agreements, information on new barriers, and new or updated information pertaining to the barriers covered in its 2015 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, service providers and/or intellectual property at the expense of goods, services or intellectual property from other countries.
USTR is also inviting information on trade barriers affecting telecommunications products and services. USTR is required to annually review the operation and effectiveness of all U.S. trade agreements currently in force regarding telecom products and services and has typically solicited input for that review separately from the NTE process but is combining the two this year. It appears that USTR intends to fold the telecom report into its annual NTE report as it did this year with the separate reports it had issued for a few years on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade.