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Telecom Trade Agreement Compliance Subject of Annual USTR Inquiry

Friday, December 06, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is inviting public comments by Jan. 3 on the operation, effectiveness and implementation of and compliance with various trade agreements regarding U.S. telecommunications products and services. These agreements are the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services, NAFTA and the U.S. free trade agreements with Australia, Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Korea, Morocco, Oman, Panama, Peru, Singapore and the DR-CAFTA region, and any other telecom trade agreements, such as mutual recognition agreements for conformity assessment of telecom equipment. USTR plans to conclude this review by March 31, 2014.

The purpose of this review is to determine whether any act, policy or practice of a country that has entered into an FTA or other telecom trade agreement with the U.S. is inconsistent with the terms of such agreement or otherwise denies U.S. firms, within the context of the terms of such agreements, mutually advantageous market opportunities for telecom products and services. Measures or practices of interest include the following.

- efforts by a foreign government or a telecom service provider to block services delivered over the Internet (including voice over Internet protocol services, social networking and search services)

- requirements for access to or use of networks that limit the products or services U.S. suppliers can offer in specific foreign markets

- the imposition of excessively high licensing fees

- unreasonable wholesale roaming rates that mobile telecom service suppliers in specific foreign markets charge U.S. suppliers that seek to supply international mobile roaming services to their U.S. customers

- allocating access to spectrum or other scarce resources through discriminatory procedures or contingent on the purchase of locally-produced equipment

- subsidies provided to equipment manufacturers that are contingent upon exporting or local content or have caused adverse effects to domestic equipment manufacturers

- the imposition by foreign governments of unnecessary or discriminatory technical regulations or standards for telecom products or services

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