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USTR and APEC Facilitating Trade for Grid Modernization

As part of President Obama’s plan to build a 21st century electric grid in the United States, USTR is working with our partners in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to prevent and eliminate barriers to trade in products that use smart grid technologies.

APEC’s 21 member economies include some of the world’s biggest markets for products that together build a 21st century grid. These products include electric vehicles, renewable energy technology, consumer appliances, power generation and transmission equipment, among many others. APEC members are spending billions of dollars to develop and deploy these smart grid technologies in their own economies.

APEC initiated a new program this year to address trade issues associated with smart grid interoperability standards. These standards will determine the degree of compatibility of smart grid technologies across markets. They compatibility standard will have a significant impact on the ability to trade these products. Some APEC member economies are in the process of developing these standards.

The development and adoption of international interoperability standards will help create economies of scale. It will also provide a common global platform for vendors to innovate and provide consumer choice, while ensuring product performance. This will ensure that manufacturers do not need to adapt their products to the standards of each market in the region, making it possible to do business across the region.

At the APEC Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Big Sky, Montana, Ministers instructed APEC officials to prevent and eliminate technical barriers to trade related to standards for emerging technologies, including in the area of smart grid technology. Close cooperation in the development of new standards is the most effective way to prevent technical barriers to trade.

In Big Sky, regulators, trade officials, and private sector stakeholders came together to discuss how APEC can prevent trade barriers related to smart grid. Based on this input, USTR will work with our counterparts to identify actions APEC economies can take in this area in anticipation of the upcoming APEC Leaders’ Meeting this November.