USTR Releases 2023 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers

March 31, 2023

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today released the 2023 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.

“USTR is implementing President Biden’s worker-centered trade agenda to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out and deliver sustainable, inclusive prosperity for all,” said Ambassador Tai. “The 2023 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 66 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 2023 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 India and Turkey’s procedures and requirements for agricultural biotechnology approvals, Mexico’s policies regarding products of agricultural biotechnology, and the EU’s non-science-based policies affecting innovative crop protection technologies; (3) import licensing requirements and non-transparent import licensing administration restricting the flow of U.S. agricultural exports to a number of countries, including Ecuador, Egypt, and Indonesia; and (4) lack of adherence to international science- and risk-based standards and commitments related to trade in poultry products from regions impacted by highly pathogenic avian influenza, including by China. 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 2023 NTE Report details restrictive data policies in China, the EU, India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam, among other countries.   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 Policies:  China’s state-led, non-market approach to the economy and trade continues to shape the industrial policies that China pursues, which provide unfair competitive advantages to Chinese companies.  These advantages are conferred by numerous types of interventionist and discriminatory measures and actions, with China providing Chinese companies with massive financial support and regulatory and other preferences while simultaneously pursuing formal and informal policies and practices that seek to disadvantage foreign competitors.  Typically, China’s goal is to displace the foreign competition in the domestic market and then to pursue dominance in global markets.  China’s behavior can heavily distort and disrupt markets and often leads to the creation of severe and persistent excess capacity, as evidenced by the ongoing situations in the steel, aluminum, and solar industries, among others.  Currently, China is focused on numerous industries in advanced manufacturing, high-technology, and other key economic sectors, where China is setting and pursuing production and market share targets 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 will continue to work closely with like-minded trading partners on the shared challenges posed by China’s harmful industrial policies.

Labor:  The U.S. Government has identified concerns related to labor rights in several countries.  The Chinese Government continues to not adequately enforce existing prohibitions on forced labor, especially in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang).  The United States has stepped up enforcement actions to prohibit goods from China made with forced labor under section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and has sanctioned individuals associated with China’s distant water fishing vessels for serious human rights abuse, including forced labor, of workers aboard these vessels. Imports from Bangladesh remain ineligible for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences program due to Bangladesh’s failure to meet statutory eligibility requirements related to worker rights, particularly with regard to acceptable conditions of work in the ready-made garment sector, including fire and building safety, and freedom of association. Although the Dominican Republic has made progress on some labor issues in the sugar sector, the country still faces challenges related to labor law enforcement, and concerns about dangerous working conditions, verification of pay and hours, unsuitable living conditions, workers’ precarious legal status, and other potential labor rights abuses. In 2022, the United States established a bilateral technical working group with the Dominican Republic under the CAFTA-¬DR to help improve labor law enforcement in the Dominican Republic sugar sector.

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:

• The NTE report highlights how several countries have implemented automotive safety standards that effectively exclude U.S. 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 these markets, including Colombia, Egypt, Morocco, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

• In 2023, the United States will continue to focus on a variety of non-tariff barriers that seriously impede access to Japan’s automotive market. A particular barrier of concern is Japan’s unique spectrum allocation for short-range vehicle communications systems. 

• India imposes mandatory domestic testing and certification requirement for select telecommunications equipment.  Under the Mandatory Testing and Certification for Telecom Equipment procedures, India requires local mandatory testing for 175 products. In-country testing and certification requirements add additional costs, delays, and duplicative testing for U.S. telecommunication equipment producers. 

You can view the report here.

The release of the 2023 NTE Report follows the March 1, 2023 release of the 2023 President’s Trade Agenda and 2022 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, 2023.