Background

Restrictive data policies, industrial subsidies, and the use of forced labor are among the trade barriers outlined in the annual National Trade Estimate report issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. While the report states that such barriers are actionable under U.S. trade law as well as through the World Trade Organization and free trade agreements, it does not indicate what steps USTR might take to address these barriers.

The NTE report describes thousands of individual trade barriers in 64 trading partners and country groups accounting for 99 percent of U.S. goods trade and 85 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 Turkey, Mexico, and the European Union, and (3) import
licensing requirements and non-transparent import licensing administration in Angola, Ecuador, Egypt, and Indonesia

- digital trade barriers such as restrictive data policies in China, the EU, India, Indonesia, Korea, 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 Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Thailand

- burdensome technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures in Mexico, Panama, and Egypt

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

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