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USTR Steps Up Enforcement Focus with First-Ever Reports on Agricultural, Technical Barriers to U.S. Exports

03/31/2010

Ambassador Ron Kirk Transmits New Information to Congress along with Annual National Trade Estimate

Washington, DC - U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk today transmitted to Congress the 2010 National Trade Estimate (NTE), which describes significant barriers to U.S. trade and investment faced in the last year as well as the actions being taken by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to address those barriers.  In addition, Ambassador Kirk delivered two new, related reports focusing specifically on sanitary and phytosanitary barriers and technical barriers to trade that harm the ability of America's agricultural producers and manufacturers to export around the world.   Kirk first promised a sharper focus on SPS and technical barriers to trade in a July 2009 speech at U.S. Steel's Mon Valley Steel Works in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

"The Obama Administration is following through on its commitment to call out and break down barriers to American exports worldwide," said Ambassador Kirk today.  "This year, we've gone beyond obligatory reporting to focus on some of the toughest hurdles America's farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers face when they try to sell overseas.  USTR will take the information in these new reports, as well as in the National Trade Estimate itself, and use all the tools that we have to get these markets open to American products."

All three reports, plus fact sheets detailing key barriers identified and successes in reducing SPS and TBT barriers, are available now atwww.ustr.gov/trade-topics/enforcement.

USTR leads U.S. Government agencies' efforts to ensure that foreign governments play by international trade rules, so that sanitary and phytosanitary regulations or standards and related measures do not hinder U.S. producers seeking to compete in international markets.  The 2010 reports on sanitary and phytosanitary barriers and on technical barriers to trade document the processes, procedures and tools for engagement on issues related to those trade barriers, and will help focus more intense U.S. engagement on preventing and resolving related trade concerns.  The reports evidence this Administration's efforts to identify and eliminate these particular kinds of measures and practices that act as significant barriers to U.S. trade.

This Administration particularly recognizes the critical role that standards and related measures play in ensuring the competitiveness of the U.S. economy, both at home and abroad, and the importance of strategic and active engagement across Federal agencies and departments on critical standards-related issues.   To this end, USTR will also play a lead role in the recently established Subcommittee on Standards of the National Science and Technology Council.

Background:

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has worked closely with other agencies in the U.S. government, including our embassies abroad, to prepare the NTE Report as required by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and to prepare this year's new reports on sanitary and phytosanitary barriers and technical barriers to trade.  Information used in preparing the report is gathered from the Administration's monitoring program, from members of the public, and from private and public sector trade advisory committees.  These issues are also discussed in detail in meetings with Members of Congress throughout the year.  Additional reports informed by the National Trade Estimate will be delivered to Congress in the coming days: the Section 1377 report on telecommunications trade agreements, and the annual Special 301 report on intellectual property rights.  The Special 301 report is released no later than one month after the NTE Report.