WASHINGTON - The Office of the United States Trade Representative today released its 2005 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE), an annual report documenting foreign trade and investment barriers and U.S. efforts to reduce and eliminate those barriers.
"Eliminating trade barriers so that American workers, farmers, and businesses can have increased access overseas for our goods and services is one of USTR’s core missions," said Acting U.S. Trade Representative Peter F. Allgeier. "The NTE report highlights many of the barriers, large and small, that Americans face around the world. Every day, USTR works closely with other U.S. Government agencies to press our foreign trading partners to eliminate their barriers.
"Consultations, negotiations and litigation are among the tools at our disposal, and we are using them aggressively to make sure that Americans are treated fairly," added Allgeier.
The NTE provides an account of barriers and unfair trade practices to American exports of goods, services, and farm products. Besides limiting opportunities for U.S. businesses and farmers, such barriers also undermine the benefits that foreign countries, particularly developing countries, see from trade liberalization. The NTE covers 61 major trading partners in each region of the world and profiles policies restricting market access.
While the NTE report itself details successful efforts to reduce barriers to Americans around the world, some noteworthy examples of success in the past year include:
- The agreement with China that ensured that U.S. semiconductor manufacturers can maintain and expand their $2 billion export business to China. The agreement followed the filing of the first and to date the only WTO dispute against China in an effort to eliminate China's discriminatory value-added tax policies on semiconductors.
- A resolution with Korea over its plan to mandate a domestic standard (the Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability standard, or WIPI) for mobile phone applications, shutting out competing systems already operating in the market, including a U.S. system with over 7 million Korean subscribers. However, as a result of extensive negotiations with the United States concluding in April 2004, the Korean government will allow other applications platforms to co-exist in the market.
- An agreement with Mexico to re-open its market to U.S. beef and related products. Following the finding of one imported cow with BSE in December 2003, Mexico had closed its border to approximately $1.3 billion of U.S. beef and related products. In the Spring of 2004, Mexico removed its prohibitions on most products, equating to approximately $1.2 billion of the former trade value.
Major ongoing problems include:
- The epidemic levels of counterfeiting and piracy in China, which cause serious economic harm to U.S. businesses in virtually every sector of the economy. The United States is currently conducting an out-of-cycle review under the Special 301 provisions of U.S. trade law to assess China’s IPR regime. We will take the appropriate action necessary at the conclusion of that review to ensure that China develops and implements an effective system of IPR enforcement, as required by the TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement.
- The reopening of Japan’s market to U.S. beef and beef products after Japan banned imports when one BSE-infected imported cow was found in the United States in late 2003. Although the United States has addressed all science and safety concerns about U.S. beef, Japan still has not permitted the resumption of trade in this roughly $1.7 billion annual export market.
- The imposition of a 20 percent tax by Mexico on beverages and syrups made with sweeteners other than cane sugar. This beverage tax violates Mexico’s WTO obligations because it discriminates against U.S. products such as high fructose corn-syrup (HFCS), a corn-based sweetener that directly competes with sugar in many applications. The United States, after extensive attempts to negotiate a solution, filed a WTO case, which is currently in the litigation stage.
The USTR works closely with the rest of the U.S. Government, including American Embassies, to prepare the NTE report, a document required by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. The information in the report is gathered from the Administration's monitoring program and from the public and private sector trade advisory committees. These issues are also discussed in detail in meetings with Members of Congress throughout the year.
Later this week, the USTR will announce the results of the 1377 Review, a report that focuses on the barriers facing U.S. telecommunications services and equipment providers, and lays out the specific telecommunications-related issues on which USTR will focus its efforts this year. Thirty days after the NTE report is submitted to Congress, the USTR will issue its "Special 301" annual report on the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in trading partners around the world. The information gathered for the NTE report plays a key role in the decision making process in both of these reports.