The Office of the United States Trade Representative today
released The 2001 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers. The report, required by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, catalogues foreign trade barriers to
U.S. exports. The report also highlights examples of our trading partners reducing, or
eliminating, trade barriers.
"Free trade is vitally important to the American people," said
U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick. "It improves the economic well-being of Americans, it
advances freedom around the world, and it promotes our nation’s security. But in order to
realize these benefits, we need to build public support for open trade. That means publicizing the
existence of trade barriers in foreign markets and working with our trading partners to eliminate
The persistence of trade barriers reaffirms the need for the
United States to remain actively engaged with the World Trade Organization, which provides a
framework for dispute resolution with our trading partners. The trade barriers also underscore the
importance of launching a new round of multilateral trade negotiations this November when WTO
members meet in Doha, Qatar. These negotiations are an opportunity for governments to reduce,
and eventually eliminate, barriers to free trade.
"The trade barriers described in this year’s report illustrate the
opportunities presented by global, regional, and bilateral trade negotiations," said Zoellick. "The
report demonstrates what is at stake if the United States fails to take the lead in shaping the
international trade agenda."
The full text of the trade barriers report is available on the
USTR web site, www.ustr.gov.
Bound copies of the report are available from USTR’s Office of Public
Regional Highlights of the 2001 Report:
Africa: The eight
sub-Saharan African countries under review are undertaking economic and political reforms to promote economic growth and to facilitate
their integration into global markets. Most of the countries have taken steps to improve their investment
climate and are actively seeking foreign investment. Tariffs have been reduced, but remain high in
certain sectors and countries. Other issues hampering U.S. exporters in sub-Saharan Africa
include ineffectual enforcement of intellectual property rights, onerous customs delays, and
Canada: The United States
trades more with Canada than with any other country, but a number of issues threaten this partnership.
The 1996 U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement, which covers $7
billion in trade, was created to mitigate the effects of Canadian provinces’ timber
sales practices and to provide time for reform. But the United States has seen little change in these
practices and continues to be concerned with the lack of market principles in Canadian forest
management systems. The Agreement expires March 31.
The Canadian Wheat Board has been reorganized but continues to
enjoy government-sanctioned monopoly status, as well as other privileges that restrict
competition. In October 2000, USTR initiated a 12-month investigation of the wheat board’s practices
in response to an industry petition.
Canada committed to bring its dairy export subsidy regime into
compliance with its WTO obligations by January 31, 2001. Instead, it instituted programs
that essentially replicate the old regime. The United States has requested WTO authorization to
suspend trade concessions if a WTO appeals panel determines that Canada has not
China: The United States
and China continued multilateral negotiations on China’s accession to the WTO throughout 2000. In preparation for accession, the Chinese
government launched a campaign to align domestic laws and regulations with WTO rules.
But a number of problems continue to plague the bilateral trade relationship.
Import standards and phytosanitary requirements are being used to
create import barriers for products that will benefit from tariff cuts following accession to
Imports of products ranging from cosmetics to medical equipment
are required to undergo duplicative and expensive quality and safety inspection
Imports of agricultural products such as grain, poultry, and
citrus have been arbitrarily blocked.
Transparency continues to be an issue for both foreign and
domestic firms. Inconsistent notification and application of existing laws and regulations
create problems for businesses.
China has made improvements in its intellectual property rights
protection regime, but a high level of product counterfeiting and copyright piracy
European Union: Several
European Union policies continue to create significant barriers to U.S. economic interests. These include the bananas regime, bans on U.S.
beef from livestock treated with hormones and on U.S. bio-engineered products, member state
government financial support to the aircraft industry, and widely differing EU standards,
testing, and certification procedures. Many U.S. trade concerns stem from the lack of transparency in the
development of EU regulations. The United States views transparency and public
participation as essential to promote more effective trans-Atlantic regulatory cooperation, to achieve
better quality regulation, and to help minimize possible trade disputes.
India: Access to the
Indian market has improved with the removal in the last year of longstanding quantitative restrictions on a wide variety of products. However,
India continues to impose substantial barriers to U.S. exports, including high tariffs and
related taxes, and a variety of non-tariff measures affecting most trade, including an onerous
import licensing regime.
Inadequate intellectual property protection and enforcement
remains a longstanding concern.
India’s policy linking auto imports to investment, local content
and trade balancing is the subject of a WTO dispute.
India has recently introduced new labeling and other
standards-related requirements that could impede U.S. exports to India.
Japan: Japan is the United
States’ third largest trading partner, accounting for well over $250 billion in two-way trade in goods and services. But a sputtering
Japanese economy, persistent market access barriers, structural rigidity and excessive
regulation limit opportunities for U.S. companies trading with, and operating in, Japan.
The United States is encouraged that Prime Minister Mori agreed
with President Bush in their Joint Statement on March 19, 2001, about the importance of promoting
deregulation, restructuring and foreign direct investment.
Much of this year’s report focuses on progress achieved under the
U.S.-Japan Enhanced Initiative on Deregulation and Competition Policy. The report highlights the
U.S. submission to Japan under the Enhanced Initiative in October 2000.
The initiative calls on Japan to adopt additional regulatory reforms in key sectors and structural
areas of the Japanese economy.
This year’s report includes new sections on information technology
and proposed revisions to Japan’s Commercial Code. (The Commercial Code provides the
regulatory framework for doing business in Japan.)
The report underscores USTR’s deep concern with barriers in
Japan’s $130 billion telecommunications sector. Competition in this sector has been
stifled due to the absence of an independent regulator; weak dominant carrier regulation; high
interconnection rates for both wired and wireless services; and inadequate access to rights-of-way,
facilities, and other services to competitors.
We are concerned about the increase in barriers to Japan’s
agricultural market, including the level of access for U.S. rice. Japan also needs to comply with a WTO
ruling in favor of the United States on varietal testing.
Korea: Korea is one of the
United States' major trading partners, and President Kim Dae Jung has made some progress toward a more open, market-oriented
economic policy. However, Korea continues to impose significant barriers to U.S.
Korea’s high tariffs and related taxes, and anti-import biases,
combine to restrict seriously access for U.S. exports. Korea’s auto market remains virtually closed to
U.S. companies. Korea also imposes high duties and maintains other barriers on many
agricultural and fishery products.
The United States has expressed its concern to the Korean
Government about the negative implications of recent government-directed lending on the
country’s restructuring efforts, and the potential inconsistency of this action with its WTO
Inadequate protection of intellectual property rights continues to
be a serious problem in Korea.
USTR has long-standing concerns about the Korean Government's
involvement in, and support for, the Korean steel industry.
Mexico: Mexico is the
United States' second largest bilateral trading partner, and has been the fastest growing major U.S. export market over the last seven
years. USTR welcomes Mexico’s progress in promoting competition in its $12 billion
telecommunications market. However, Mexico has not addressed certain outstanding issues subject to its
WTO commitments. It has failed to ensure competition in its market for
international services. It has also failed to enforce its rules to prevent its major
telecommunications supplier, Telmex, from engaging in anti-competitive conduct.