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This year the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) publishes its fourth annual Report on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Report). This report was created to respond to the concerns of U.S. companies, farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers, which increasingly encounter non-tariff trade barriers in the form of product standards, testing requirements, and other technical requirements as they seek to sell products and services around the world. As tariff barriers to industrial and agricultural trade have fallen, standards-related measures of this kind have emerged as a key concern.
Governments, market participants, and other entities can use standards-related measures as an effective and efficient means of achieving legitimate commercial and policy objectives. But when standards-related measures are outdated, overly burdensome, discriminatory, or otherwise inappropriate, these measures can reduce competition, stifle innovation, and create unnecessary technical barriers to trade. These kinds of measures can pose a particular problem for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which often do not have the resources to address these problems on their own. USTR is committed to identifying and combating unwarranted technical barriers to U.S. exports, many of which are detailed in this report. USTR’s efforts to prevent and remove foreign technical barriers serve the President’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 through the National Export Initiative.