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Practice Areas

Annual Report on Telecom Trade Barriers Sees Some Progress, New Barriers

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

An annual review of the operation and effectiveness of telecommunications trade agreements released April 4 by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative finds that over the past year the U.S. made progress in advancing market liberalization in this sector but continued to see the emergence of new barriers. The report outlines those barriers and identifies specific issues on which USTR will focus its monitoring and enforcement issues in 2014.

According to the report, over the past year there has been progress in Mexico, where new legislation looks to promote competition in both the telecom and video services markets, and Colombia, where the government has acted to enforce competition-related rules to ensure that new entrants have a chance to prosper. At the same time, the report notes the emergence of “troubling new and potential barriers to trade,” including the government of Pakistan’s failure to fully address efforts by local participants to create a cartel for the provision of international calls, the European Union’s proposal to create a Europe-only cloud computing network, and Turkey’s blockage of numerous Internet-enabled services.

Other issues in this year’s report focus on a broad range of concerns, including the following. USTR acknowledges that several of these issues have been discussed in previous years but believes it is appropriate to continue to raise them and encourage trading partners to implement appropriate solutions. USTR will continue to monitor these practices and measures and “may take further action” if warranted.

- restrictions on the provision of voice over Internet protocol services in China and India

- lack of an independent and effective telecom regulator in China

- foreign investment limits in foreign markets, particularly China

- efforts to increase the rates U.S. telecom operators must pay to connect long-distance calls from the U.S. in foreign countries, particularly Pakistan, Fiji, Tonga and Uganda

- undue restrictions on the ability of U.S. satellite service suppliers to provide satellite transmission capacity to customers in China and India

- U.S. telecom suppliers’ ability to obtain competitive access to facilities in India where submarine cables connect to the Indian terrestrial network

- localization requirements, equipment standards and, in Brazil and Indonesia, conformity assessment procedures (including testing requirements) that act as barriers to entry for U.S. telecom equipment

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