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Section 1377 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 requires USTR to review by March 31 of each year the operation and effectiveness of U.S. telecommunications trade agreements.

The purpose of the review is to determine whether any act, policy, or practice of a foreign country that has entered into a telecommunications-related agreement with the United States is not in compliance with the terms of the agreement, or otherwise denies, within the context of the agreement, to telecommunications products and services of U.S. firms mutually advantageous market opportunities in that country.

The 2008 Section 1377 Review focused on country-specific concerns, as well as more general issues of concern. Country-specific concerns included:

  • access to the telecommunications network of the major supplier in Australia;

  • impediments to market access in China, including high capitalization requirements and limits on joint-venture partnerships;

  • problems interconnecting with major suppliers in El Salvador and Guatemala;

  • access to network elements of the major supplier's network in Germany;

  • concerns related to the application and administration of Jamaica's universal service program;

  • telecom equipment testing requirements in Mexico;

  • delays in licensing basic telecommunications services in Oman; and

  • access to leased lines in Singapore.

General issues of concern identified in the 2008 1377 Review include:

  • regulatory frameworks that hinder the development of competitive telecommunications markets;

  • excessively high mobile termination rates;

  • continued barriers to the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology; and

  • conformity assessment requirements relating to telecommunications and information technology equipment.

In the 2008 1377 Review, USTR also marked progress in key markets on issues identified in earlier reviews, including:

  • Colombia, which drastically reduced a high licensing fee for long distance service that had long served as a barrier to market entry; and

  • India, which eliminated its Access Deficit Charge, a fee that increased costs to U.S. carriers sending telecommunications traffic to India.

Mutual Recognition Agreements

Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) are agreements designed to facilitate trade in specific product sectors between participating countries -- while maintaining high levels of U.S. health, safety and environmental protection.

MRAs generally permit U.S. exporters to conduct certain product conformity assessments (such as product testing or certifying) in the United States according to foreign requirements, and vice versa. These agreements save manufacturers time and expense by avoiding duplicative assessments.

They also conserve U.S. regulatory agencies resources through cooperation with foreign counterparts.

Related agreements:

Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Results of Conformity Assessment Procedures Between the United States of America and Japan