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Foreign Trade Barriers are Focus of Annual USTR Inquiry

Monday, August 27, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is seeking input by Oct. 30 for its annual national trade estimate report on significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services and U.S. foreign direct investment. Comments may be submitted with respect to one or more of the following categories of trade barriers (issues new to the list this year are highlighted in bold).

- import policies (e.g., tariffs and other import charges, quantitative restrictions, import licensing, customs barriers, and other market access barriers)

- subsidies, including export subsidies (e.g., export financing on preferential terms, subsidies provided to equipment manufacturers contingent on export, and agricultural export subsidies that displace U.S. exports in third-country markets) and local content subsidies (e.g., contingent on the purchase or use of domestic rather than imported goods)

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

- services trade barriers (e.g., prohibitions or restrictions on foreign participation in the market, discriminatory licensing requirements or regulatory standards, local presence requirements, and unreasonable restrictions on what services may be offered)

- barriers to digital trade (e.g., barriers to cross-border data flows including data localization requirements, discriminatory practices affecting trade in digital products, restrictions on the provision of Internet-enabled services, and other restrictive technology requirements)

- investment barriers (e.g., limitations on foreign equity participation and on access to foreign government-funded research and development programs; 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 implemented through unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary measures, including those justified for purposes of protecting human, 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)

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

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

Commenters should submit information related to one or more of the following export markets to be covered in the report: Algeria, Angola, the Arab League, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, the European Union, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

USTR is particularly interested in practices that may violate U.S. trade agreements, information on new barriers, and new or updated information pertinent to the barriers covered in its 2018 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.

In addition, each comment should include an estimate of the potential increase in U.S. exports that would result from removing the identified barrier.

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