USTR Releases 2022 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers

March 31, 2022

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today released the 2022 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE Report), providing a comprehensive review of significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, U.S. foreign direct investment, and U.S. electronic commerce in key export markets for the United States.

“The President’s Trade Agenda detailed a bold vision for supporting America’s working families and businesses by promoting fair competition and inclusive economic growth,” said Ambassador Tai.  “The 2022 NTE Report identifies a range of important challenges and priorities to guide the Biden Administration’s effort to craft trade policy that reflects our country’s values and builds a better America.”

Published annually since 1985, the NTE Report covers significant foreign trade barriers in over 64 markets which together account for 99 percent of U.S. goods trade and 85 percent of U.S. services trade.

The NTE Report covers significant trade barriers in areas, including:  (1) import policies; (2) technical barriers to trade; (3) sanitary and phytosanitary measures; (4) government procurement; (5) intellectual property protection; (6) services barriers; (7) barriers to digital trade and electronic commerce; (8) investment barriers; (9) subsidies, especially export subsidies; (10) competition; (11) state-owned enterprises; (12) labor; (13) environment; among others.

Examples of these significant obstacles include:

Agricultural Trade Barriers:  The 2022 NTE Report highlights a number of cross-cutting barriers affecting U.S. agricultural trade, including (1) opaque and burdensome facility registration requirements, such as China’s Decree 248 and 249, and Indonesia’s facility registration requirements for dairy, meat, and rendered products; (2) sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that are not based on science, are maintained without sufficient scientific evidence, or are applied beyond the extent necessary to address SPS issues, such as Turkey’s onerous procedures and requirements for agricultural biotechnology approvals, Mexico’s decisions on agricultural biotechnology applications and its decree providing for a phase-out of agricultural biotechnology corn, and the EU’s burdensome certification requirements for animal products and non-science-based policies affecting innovative crop technologies; and (3) import licensing requirements and non-transparent import licensing administration restricting the flow of U.S. agricultural exports to a number of countries, including Angola, Ecuador, Egypt, and Indonesia. USTR will continue to engage foreign governments on barriers that hamper the ability of U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors to access markets worldwide. 

Digital Trade Barriers:  The 2022 NTE Report details restrictive data policies in China, the EU, India, Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam, among other countries.  For example, India’s proposed regulations on digital trade and electronic commerce include data localization requirements and restrictions on cross-border data flows that could serve as a barrier for a wide range of bilateral goods and services trade.  Separately, EU leaders have promoted “technological sovereignty” or “digital sovereignty” as a policy objective.   USTR will continue monitoring the execution of this policy to ensure that it does not pose a form of unfair competition.  USTR will continue to engage foreign governments on policies that significantly affect U.S. exporters of digital products and services and undermine U.S. manufacturers’ and service suppliers’ ability to move data across borders. 

Industrial PoliciesChina’s state-led, non-market approach to the economy and trade drives its pursuit of industrial policies that provide unfair competitive advantages to Chinese companies and actively seeks to displace foreign competitors and technologies in order to dominate domestic and global markets.  China deploys numerous types of interventionist and discriminatory measures and actions in pursuit of its industrial policies, which can heavily distort and disrupt markets and often lead to the creation of severe and persistent excess capacity, as evidenced by the ongoing situations in steel, aluminum, and solar, among others.  Newer targets for China’s industrial policies include numerous industries in advanced manufacturing, high-technology, and other key economic sectors where China is setting and pursuing production and market share objectives that can only be achieved through non-market means.  USTR is determined to pursue all available domestic trade tools to protect the competitiveness of U.S. workers and businesses and to work closely with like-minded trading partners on the shared challenges posed by China’s harmful practices.

Labor:  The U.S. Government has identified concerns related to labor rights in several countries, including with respect to:  employment discrimination and freedom of association in Bahrain; acceptable conditions of work and freedom of association in Bangladesh; forced labor and other human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China; freedom of association and collective bargaining in Colombia; acceptable conditions of work, child labor, forced labor, freedom of association, and collective bargaining in the Dominican Republic; freedom of association, collective bargaining, and acceptable conditions of work in Guatemala; freedom of association, collective bargaining, child labor, and acceptable conditions of work in Honduras; freedom of association in Peru; and freedom of association and other worker rights concerns in Thailand.
Technical Barriers to Trade:  Technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures are a legitimate form of regulation, but in some cases can be used to unnecessarily restrict trade or curb the movement of innovative products risk lost opportunities to capitalize on America’s leadership in science and high-technology manufacturing, services, and agriculture.  For example:

  • Burdensome technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures hamper the ability of American producers to export high quality U.S. food and agricultural products to certain markets. Examples include Mexico’s draft conformity assessment procedures for cheese, and Panama’s technical regulations for onions and potatoes.
  • Egypt requires foreign entities that export finished consumer products to Egypt to register their trademark and their manufacturing facilities with Egypt’s General Organization for Exports and Imports. Registration can take several months, adding costs and uncertainty to the export process, which may discourage exports to Egypt over time.
  • The NTE highlights how several countries have implemented automotive safety standards that effectively exclude vehicles built to conform to the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), which provide a high level of protection that matches or exceeds that of other countries. Over the coming year, USTR will continue its engagement with foreign government and authorities, to ensure that U.S. exports of FMVSS-compliant vehicles are able to access their markets, including Colombia, Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, and Taiwan.

The NTE also highlights progress on removing barriers by continuing to work with our trade partners.  For example:

  • Following Japan’s imposition in March 2021 of a safeguard on U.S. beef exports, under which U.S. beef exports temporarily did not benefit from preferential treatment under the United States–Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA), the United States and Japan reached an agreement in principle to increase the USJTA beef safeguard trigger level, and greatly reduce the probability of the safeguard increasing tariffs again.  The United States will focus work in 2022 to finalize the text of the agreement and complete domestic procedures. 
  • The United States and Vietnam signed an agreement that addresses U.S. concerns in the Section 301 investigation into Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices relating to the import and use of illegal timber.  The agreement secures commitments that will help keep illegally harvested or traded timber out of the supply chain and protect the environment and natural resources.  USTR will monitor Vietnam’s implementation of its commitments.

You can view the report here.

The release of the 2022 NTE Report follows the March 1, 2022 release of the 2022 President’s Trade Agenda and 2021 Annual Report.  USTR plans to release its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of trading partners’ protection of intellectual property rights by April 30, 2022.