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U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Obama Administration Accomplishments in Reducing Barriers to American Exports

April 01, 2015

Newly Released 2015 National Trade Estimate Report Shows USTR’s Work to Identify and Combat Obstacles to Made-in-America Exports

Washington, D.C. – Made-in-America exports unlock economic opportunity for the American people, support 11.7 million well-paying jobs across the United States, and strengthen the middle class. 

Unwarranted barriers to selling our world-class goods and services abroad hurt American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses large and small. USTR’s efforts to spotlight and address these barriers to Made-in-America exports around the world are aimed at helping businesses of all sizes grow their exports and support more American jobs.

The 2015 National Trade Estimate Report (NTE), released today by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, provides an inventory of significant foreign obstacles affecting U.S. exports and provides an update on how USTR’s efforts to reduce those obstacles.  

The 2015 NTE details significant accomplishments by the Obama Administration as far as reducing and eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports.  This report includes special features on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) barriers that are impacting American agricultural exports, as well as Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) that are unfairly restricting American manufacturing exports.  Last year these were released as separate reports, but this year have been incorporated into the NTE for ease of use.  

SPS standards, or rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards, are essential in trade and ensure that food is safe for people to eat. However, as highlighted in the NTE, some countries create excessive, unnecessary SPS regulations that act as disguised barriers to American agricultural exports. USTR has had numerous successes over the past year in eliminating many of these.

Along similar lines, as USTR has worked to reduce tariff barriers to industrial and agricultural trade, certain burdensome technical regulations have emerged as disguised barriers to American trade.  The Obama Administration has also delivered key reductions and eliminations of these barriers.

“Trade is at the forefront of President Obama’s Middle Class Economics agenda because Made-in-America exports fuel economic growth across our country, support millions of well-paying jobs, and make the United States a more competitive force in the global economy,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “As the 2015 National Trade Estimate Report reveals, the Obama Administration is working around the clock to fight unwarranted barriers to our exports around the world, and we’ve racked-up significant accomplishments in protecting the benefits that trade delivers for the American people.”

The 2015 NTE highlights the Obama Administration’s ongoing work to spotlight and eliminate significant trade barriers that block American exporters in our largest export markets in order to safeguard contributions that exporting makes to the American economy. For example, in the past year, the administration accomplished the following:   

  • Agriculture Market Access in China: At the December 2014 U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) meeting, China made commitments that should promote significant increases in U.S. exports of soybeans, corn and dairy products to China.  Specifically, China announced that it would approve the importation of new biotechnology varieties of U.S. soybeans and corn and also that it would pursue a regular dialogue with the United States focused on the benefits of the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture, for both the United States and China.
  • Intellectual Property Rights Protection in China: At the July 2014 U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meeting and the December 2014 JCCT meeting, China's IPR-related commitments addressed a range of needed improvements, which should benefit U.S. businesses in a wide variety of industries that rely on the ability to protect their trade secrets, as well as U.S. holders of patents, trademarks and copyrights. For example, China agreed to pursue criminal and other actions to deter the misappropriation of trade secrets, to ensure that criminal and civil cases are tried and the resulting judgments are published, and to protect trade secrets contained in materials submitted by companies as part of regulatory, administrative and other proceedings.
  • Major Reforms Regarding Energy and Telecommunications in Mexico: In 2014, Mexico conducted sweeping reforms of the energy and telecommunications sectors, creating significant new opportunities for U.S. investors, manufacturers and service suppliers.  Energy reform legislation opened Mexico’s oil and gas sector to private participation for the first time since 1938. And telecommunications sector reform legislation addressed longstanding market access barriers, such as the dominance of near monopolistic companies in the wireless, fixed telephony and broadcasting markets. 

The section on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Barriers to Trade explains the Obama Administration’s efforts to identify and remove onerous barriers that affect American agricultural exports.  For example, in the past year, the administration accomplished the following:

  • Corn and Dried Distiller Grains to China: In December 2014, China approved three biotech traits, removing a key restriction on imports of corn and dried distillers grains (DDGs) from the United States.  In 2013, China imported $1 billion in U.S. corn and $1.5 billion in DDGs.
  • Beef to Vietnam: In February 2015, Vietnam agreed to allow imports of U.S. beef and beef products from cattle under 30 months old, thereby expanding access for U.S. beef and beef products.  U.S. exporters, who sent $22 million in beef and beef products to Vietnam in 2014, are expected to take advantage of new opportunities in this growing market.
  • Pork to Malaysia: After three years of engagement, in September 2014, Malaysia approved the United States as having an equivalent food safety system for pork following a successful audit.  As a result, U.S. pork is once again eligible for export to Malaysia.  Prior to the ban, which Malaysia instituted in 2011, U.S. producers exported over $1 million of pork to this growing market.

These and other successes helped the United States to export a record $155 billion in food and agricultural products in 2014, supporting over one million U.S. jobs.

The section on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) addresses unwarranted or overly burdensome technical barriers that make it difficult for American manufacturers and workers to sell their products abroad.  For example, in the past year, the administration accomplished the following:

  • 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. 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. 
  • East Africa 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.
  • 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.

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.     

To view the full 2015 National Trade Estimate report, please click here.

To view a fact sheet on the 2015 National Trade Estimate Report, please click here.

To view a fact sheet on Success Stories Concerning Reducing Technical Barriers to Trade, please click here.

To view a fact sheet on Success Stories Concerning Reducing Barriers to American Agricultural Exports, please click here.


The 2015 National Trade Estimate (NTE) Report on Foreign Trade Barriers is the thirtieth annual report that surveys significant barriers to American exports.  In accordance with section 181 of the Trade Act of 1974, as added by section 303 of the Trade and Tariff Act of 1984 and amended by section 1304 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, section 311 of the Uruguay Round Trade Agreements Act, and section 1202 of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is required to submit to the President, the Senate Finance Committee, and appropriate committees in the House of Representatives, an annual report on significant foreign trade barriers. A list of the major developments of the National Trade Estimate Report can be seen here.