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Trade Policy: Breaking Down Barriers to Trade

TRADE POLICY THAT WORKS FOR AMERICA'S WORKERS AND BUSINESSES:

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS TO TRADE

On July 16, 2009, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced the creation of new initiatives aimed at breaking down international trade barriers that harm America's agricultural producers and manufacturers - and hurt American workers who make their livings in these sectors. New programs, based in part on existing successful monitoring and enforcement efforts, will identify and resolve sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and standards-related problems faster and more effectively - saving jobs on farms and ranches and in manufacturing plants across America.

Governments impose sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures on agricultural products to protect human, animal and plant health, for example, by protecting against risk arising from contaminants in food. Standards-related measures take the form of both voluntary and mandatory standards (technical regulations), such as product design or labeling requirements, as well as testing and inspection schemes imposed on industrial and agricultural products. In both cases, sometimes the measures imposed by trading partners can end up preventing safe, high-quality goods produced by U.S. farmers and manufacturers from competing in their markets, including when those measures fail to adhere to obligations under our multilateral and bilateral trade agreements. To ensure that goods produced by U.S. producers and workers have access to our trading partners' markets, USTR will take the following steps:

FIND, HIGHLIGHT, AND FIGHT BARRIERS TO TRADE: USTR will enhance and strengthen tracking and reporting on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and standards-related measures that may be inconsistent with international trade obligations - for instance, measures that are discriminatory or otherwise constitute unnecessary obstacles to trade - and will also review other actions or practices that limit or stop U.S. goods from being sold abroad. Two public reports - one on SPS measures, one on standards-related measures - will bring greater attention and focus to resolving these problems, both on the part of U.S. trading partners and within the U.S. government.

ENGAGE WITH GLOBAL PARTNERS: USTR will work more closely with trading partners - individual countries, as well as across the trading system - to resolve specific trade concerns as well as to promote good regulatory practices, engage in regulatory cooperation, and, where appropriate, provide technical assistance to help strengthen trading partners' regulatory structures. USTR will also strengthen its work in multilateral fora, such as APEC, the OECD and the WTO, to address obstacles and facilitate trade.

TEAM UP ACROSS THE U.S. GOVERNMENT: Collaborative efforts with Federal and state agencies can maximize collective resources in preventing and resolving SPS and standards-related concerns. Working together, USTR and other agencies can do more to promote good regulatory practices, such as transparency in the development of standards and regulations and reliance on science- and risk-based approaches, and provide technical assistance to help trading partners design regulations that do not create unnecessary barriers to trade. These efforts will also ensure that trade considerations are better taken into account in the standards development activities at the international level.