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Annual Trade Barriers Report Sees Progress, Challenges

Friday, April 05, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has issued its annual National Trade Estimate report, which describes significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, foreign direct investment, and e-commerce as well as the actions being taken to address those barriers. The NTE report covers significant barriers, including those that may be consistent with international trade rules (e.g., very high tariffs), affecting U.S. exports to 61 countries, the European Union, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Arab League.

This report includes technical barriers, such as product standards and testing, labeling, and certification requirements; sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, which include measures used to ensure that foods and beverages are safe for consumers and to protect animals and plants from pests and diseases; and barriers to exports of telecommunication goods and services.

In addition, the report includes information on barriers to digital trade. These include restrictions on cross-border data flows in China. India, and Korea; digital services taxes in the EU; data localization requirements in China, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Vietnam; tariffs on digital products in Indonesia; and restrictions on online advertising in Vietnam.

The report also highlights efforts to remove barriers to U.S. exports in 2018, including the following.

- China declared it would terminate duties on poultry broiler products from the U.S. found to be inconsistent with World Trade Organization rules.

- The WTO found that China provided trade-distorting domestic support for rice, wheat, and corn in excess of its WTO commitments each year from 2012 to 2015.

- USTR and USDA worked with Colombia to amend an error in the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement tariff-rate quota for corn to ensure that nearly $1 billion in annual exports will continue without interruption and without being subject to retrospective duties.

- Ecuador revised a draft technical regulation on toy safety to incorporate the relevant international standard and recognize equivalent standards for testing.

- The EU published a regulation that restricts 33 carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic reproduction substances in textile products used by consumers rather than the nearly 300 initially proposed.

- Indonesia amended its dairy import licensing regime to remove mandatory local partnership requirements that posed a significant barrier to U.S. dairy exports.

- U.S. exporters are no longer required to provide Israeli Customs with a hardy copy certificate of origin and instead need only print and sign a declaration on the invoice or another commercial document.

Japan reopened its market to U.S. exports of meat and meat products from sheep and goats, which had been closed for 14 years.

- Morocco opened its market to U.S. poultry and beef, which enter under TRQs provided by the U.S.-Morocco free trade agreement.

- The Philippines committed to continue acceptance of vehicle imports that meet multiple high-standard automotive standards, including those of the U.S., ensuring that ASEAN harmonization efforts do not restrict U.S. auto producers’ access to the Philippines.

- Taiwan approved a statutory amendment calling for the establishment of a mechanism for early resolution of potential patent disputes, although U.S. right holders remain concerned about whether implementation of this new system will cover all pharmaceutical products.

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