Restrictive data policies, industrial subsidies, and the use of forced labor are among the barriers to U.S. exports, foreign direct investment, and e-commerce outlined in the annual National Trade Estimate report issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The 2023 report appears to be little changed from the 2022 version, highlighting what some critics have deemed unsatisfactory efforts to resolve the barriers identified each year.

For more information on how your company can respond to U.S. and foreign trade barriers, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956 or via email.

The NTE report describes thousands of individual trade barriers in 64 markets accounting for 99 percent of U.S. goods trade and 66 percent of U.S. services trade. These barriers include government laws and regulations or government-imposed measures, policies, and practices that restrict, prevent, or impede the international exchange of goods and services; protect domestic goods and services from foreign competition; artificially stimulate exports of particular domestic goods and services; fail to provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights; unduly hamper U.S. foreign direct investment or U.S. electronic commerce; or impose barriers to cross-border data flows,

Among the barriers the report highlights as significant are the following.

- barriers affecting U.S. agricultural trade, including (1) opaque and burdensome facility registration requirements in China and Indonesia, (2) non-science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures in India, Turkey, Mexico, and the European Union, and (3) import
licensing requirements and non-transparent import licensing administration in Ecuador, Egypt, and Indonesia

- digital trade barriers such as restrictive data policies in China, the EU, India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam

- industrial policies in China that provide unfair competitive advantages to Chinese companies and actively seek to displace foreign competitors and technologies in sectors such as steel, aluminum, solar, advanced manufacturing, and high technology

- forced labor and other labor rights concerns in Bangladesh, China, and the Dominican Republic

- exclusionary automotive safety standards in Colombia, Egypt, Japan, Morocco, the Philippines, and Taiwan

While the report states that compiling an annual list of trade barriers facilitates U.S. negotiations aimed at reducing or eliminating these barriers and is a valuable tool in enforcing U.S. trade laws, it does not indicate what steps USTR might take in response. However, USTR’s annual trade agenda offers more insight into the agency’s priorities for trade barriers and other issues in 2023.

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