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U.S. One of World's Most Open Economies New Report Says Average Goods Tariff 1.7 Percent

WASHINGTON - The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) received a report from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today that documents the relative openness of the American economy while noting the cost of remaining U.S. trade barriers.

According to the report, the average U.S. tariff on goods imports was 1.71 percent in 1999, among the world's lowest. The report also estimates the economic gain to the United States from the removal of all remaining U.S. trade barriers to be $14.5 billion annually. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that issues a public report on its own domestic trade barriers.

"This report tells us that America has a very open economy in general, and that by removing remaining barriers, we can further reduce taxes and costs on American families by over $14 billion a year," said Zoellick. "I suggest that other countries consider issuing similar reports, after conducting a transparent, internal review of their own trade barriers, so we can work together to target impediments to trade," Zoellick said.

The United States is committed to a policy of lowering trade barriers worldwide, which will further benefit American families, farmers and workers. Existing trade agreements between the United States and its trading partners already are delivering concrete results. Recent economic analysis estimates that the average American family of four gains between $1,300 and $2,000 annually from the two major trade agreements of the 1990s - the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Uruguay Round - which lowered global tariffs on a wide range of goods. If the United States achieves a one-third cut in global barriers to trade in the current Doha negotiations, an average American family of four could realize an additional $2,500 per year, based on academic research.

"We are committed to leading global efforts to liberalize trade across all sectors in the Doha Development Agenda," Zoellick said. "As the evidence demonstrates, American families have already benefited from open trade and stand to gain even more when new agreements are reached that lower global trade barriers."

The commission's report also found that the removal of all U.S. import restraints in 1999 would have resulted in nearly a $29 billion gain in U.S. imports; a $15 billion gain in U.S. exports and a gain in net employment of 35,000.

USTR asks the commission to update the import restraints report biannually, to help set an example for transparency in international trade. The United Sates invites its trading partners to conduct equally public examinations of domestic import restrictions, a process that would facilitate the negotiation of more open markets through the wide dissemination of information on trade barriers and their effects.

Click here for a copy of the report, or call the ITC's publications line at 202-205-1809.