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FACT SHEET: USTR Success Stories: Reducing Technical Barriers to Trade

President Obama’s Trade Agenda: Unlocking Economic Opportunity for Americans

President Obama has made increasing American exports a centerpiece of his Middle Class Economics strategy because exports unlock economic opportunity for the American people.  USTR’s efforts to spotlight and address these technical barriers to Made-in-America exports provides crucial reinforcement of that goal, and are aimed squarely at helping businesses of all sizes export more so that they can support more well-paying American jobs.

Made-in-America exports support millions of jobs across our country, and as tariff barriers to industrial and agricultural trade have fallen around the world, some standards-related measures have emerged as a key obstacle to American trade.

Because of the accomplishments explained below in addressing those obstacles, USTR has unlocked important export opportunities for American workers and businesses, which we will continue to do as we progress toward realizing President Obama’s trade agenda in order to promote economic growth, support more jobs, and strengthen the American middle class.

These and other successes helped the United States to export a record $1.6 trillion in agricultural and industrial products in 2014, supporting over 7.1 million U.S. jobs.     

Below are several Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) success stories from the TBT section of the 2015 National Trade Estimate Report:

  • Chile and Beef Grading Standards: In 2014, Chile proposed a measure that would have distinguished beef grades by breed type, which would have limited premium beef grades – and prices – to only certain purebred cattle.  Most cattle raised in the United States, however, are crossbreeds, which can lead to the addition of desirable traits such as leanness.  Under the proposal though, U.S. cross-bred beef would have been ineligible for premium grade and thus would lose its premium pricing in the Chilean market. After engagement and discussions with USTR, Chile decided to withdraw the proposed measure in October 2014 thus ensuring U.S. farmers and exporters can continue to take full advantage of this important market, which was worth $65.9 million in 2014. 
  • Korea and Organic Equivalency for Food Exports: On June 30, 2014, the United States and Korea concluded an equivalence arrangement that will benefit U.S. producers of various processed products such as ground turkey, pork chops, baby food, frozen vegetables, cereal, condiments, etc.  Pursuant to the terms of the arrangement, U.S. and Korean organic processed products certified as organic under either country’s standards that fall within the terms of the arrangement may be sold, labeled, and represented as organic in both countries.  U.S. producers can thus ship their high quality organic products without having to expend additional cost and effort to recertify them for the Korean market.
  • East African Community Trade Cooperation Agreement: In February 2015, the United States and the East African Community (EAC) signed a Cooperation Agreement that will increase trade-related capacity in the region.  The Cooperation Agreement will build capacity in three key areas: Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, and TBT.  This Agreement, which will facilitate implementation of critical customs reforms, standards harmonization efforts, and international commitments, will support greater EAC regional economic integration and strengthen its trade relationship with the United States and other global partners.
  • Standards Alliance Implementation with USAID: Other examples of cooperative efforts to decrease standards-related barriers in 2014 include USTR’s work with USAID to implement the Standards Alliance, a public-private partnership that provides technical assistance to developing countries and regions to help ensure those countries’ standards-related measures do not impose unnecessary obstacles to trade and comply with other important obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) TBT Agreement.  The aim of the program is to reduce costs and bureaucratic hurdles U.S. exporters face in foreign markets, and increase the competitiveness of American products, particularly in developing country markets.  Highlights of the work of the Standards Alliance in 2014 include:
  • Strengthening Good Regulatory Practices in Mexico and Peru:  In conjunction with local officials, the Standards Alliance held workshops in Mexico and Peru to improve application of good regulatory practices in the development of technical regulations and standards.  Application of good regulatory practices prevents and reduces unnecessary obstacles to U.S. trade by ensuring, for example, that proposed regulations are made available for public comment and that potential impacts of proposed measures are analyzed and taken into account.  These practices can help identify impacts of a regulation that may be unintended or more trade-restrictive than necessary so that they can be addressed and avoided before a final regulation is adopted.
  • Southern Africa Trade Hub Trainings Related to Standards and Regulation:  In December 2014, the Southern African Trade Hub, a USAID-sponsored project working with U.S. standards organizations, including the American National Standards Institute, on Standards Alliance programming in the region, organized training on referencing standards in regulations with the Zambia Bureau of Standards in Lusaka, Zambia.  This training will encourage transparency in the development of technical regulations, and improve implementation of the South Africa’s WTO obligations with respect to standards-related measures.