WASHINGTON - The Office of the United States Trade Representative today released its 2006 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.
"We have an aggressive and proactive agenda to open markets and reduce trade barriers so that American workers, farmers and businesses can sell their goods and services to the 95 percent of the world's consumers living outside the United States," said USTR’s General Counsel Jim Mendenhall. "The NTE report is a useful tool in identifying trade barriers our exporters face."
"Our job is to break down those barriers -- whether they are tariff or non-tariff barriers -- because it is essential to our continued economic growth and prosperity," continued Mendenhall. "Open trade is good for all countries. One of the reasons we seek an ambitious and successful Doha Round is because of the potential for global growth and poverty alleviation from the reduction of trade barriers."
The NTE covers 62 major trading partners in each region of the world and provides an account of barriers and unfair trade practices to American exports of goods, services, and farm products.
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:
European Union – Geographical Indications. The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the EU’s regulation on food-related geographical indications (GIs) is inconsistent with the EC’s obligations under the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement.
Brazil – Anti-Piracy Efforts. Over the course of 2005, Brazil undertook actions outlined in its September 2004 National Action Plan to enforce copyrights and reduce piracy, which have resulted in the commitment of significant fiscal and personnel resources to anti-piracy efforts. Notable actions include the drafting of legislation, increased seizures and prosecutions, and development of strong public awareness campaigns to fight piracy.
Japan – Removal of Unjustified Restrictions on Imports of U.S. Apples. In August 2005, the United States succeeded in having Japan remove its unjustified restrictions on the import of U.S. apples. Japan’s actions resulted from a dispute won by the United States in the WTO. This action removes a major impediment that will allow the United States to export apples to Japan.
Some major ongoing problems include:
China - Inadequate IPR Enforcement. Sales of infringing goods displace legitimate goods and reduce U.S. access to China’s market and other markets affected by China’s infringing exports. Inadequate IPR enforcement affects a wide range of products, including films, music, publishing, software, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, information technology, consumer goods, industrial goods, food products, medical devices, electrical equipment, automotive parts, clothing and footwear. Market access is another serious barrier that precludes a level playing field for U.S. companies.
European Union – Subsidies for Large Commercial Aircraft. The U.S. has filed a case in the WTO against the EU regarding European government’s subsidization of large commercial aircraft development by Airbus. Although the United States would prefer to reach a negotiated solution, we are prepared to see our WTO case through to completion if necessary.
Japan – A closed market to U.S. beef. While we successfully managed to reopen the Japanese market to U.S. beef in December 2005, Japan closed its market again the following month. We are continuing to work with our Japanese counterparts to get that market open again as soon as possible.
The USTR works closely with other agencies in the U.S. Government, including our 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, from members of the public, and from the private and public sector trade advisory committees. These issues are also discussed in detail in meetings with Members of Congress throughout the year.
Next 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.
To read the report online, click here.