The National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE) covers 65 countries, customs territories and regional associations, including each of the 20 United States’ free trade agreement (FTA) partners and all of the 50 largest markets for U.S. goods exports. These partners together account for over 95% of the United States’ $5.5 trillion trade in goods and services. The NTE reviews each in detail, highlighting issues ranging from industrial tariffs and import licensing to digital data flow, customs, agricultural quotas, industrial subsidies, restrictions on provision of telecommunications services, and more.
Each year’s edition of the NTE changes and evolves. Sometimes this reflects the creation of new barriers to U.S. exports, and at other times new conceptual challenges and opportunities arising from the progress of science, technology, and logistics. Changes in the NTE from one year to the next also reflect the success of U.S. negotiations and enforcement efforts. Such successes have been worldwide in 2019, highlighted by examples including:
Western Hemisphere -
Canada and Mexico – United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA): The USMCA contains numerous provisions that – once in force – will address outstanding trade-related irritants with Canada and Mexico. For example, under the USMCA, Canada agreed to eliminate milk classes 6 and 7, discriminatory grading of U.S. wheat, rules prohibiting simultaneous substitution of advertising for the Super Bowl, and British Columbia’s discriminatory treatment of U.S. wine in grocery stores. The USMCA also includes obligations to strengthen enforcement against counterfeiting and piracy, camcording of movies, satellite and cable signal theft, transparency with respect to new geographical indications, and copyright protection and enforcement in the digital environment. The USMCA also cracks down on data localization measures for services providers and financial services providers and locks in Mexico’s telecommunications and energy reforms.
Sub-Saharan Africa -
Ghana – Restriction on Electronic Payment Services: In February 2018, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) issued a directive requiring all financial institutions to route domestic payment transactions, including those of international schemes, through the national switch, Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS), by July 2, 2018. The Bank’s directive would give an unfair competitive advantage to GhIPSS, a wholly owned subsidiary of the BoG that operates its own domestic proprietary card scheme. The Bank of Ghana suspended the directive after U.S. Government officials raised the matter with Ghanaian government officials.
China & Taiwan -
China – Dispute Victory on Poultry Duties: The United States won a WTO compliance challenge against China’s unfair duties on poultry broiler products. As a result, China declared that it was terminating these WTO-inconsistent duties.
China – Successful WTO Dispute on China’s Excessive Agricultural Domestic Support: In 2016, the United States challenged China’s domestic support for rice, wheat, and corn as being in excess of China’s WTO commitments. In February 2019, a WTO dispute settlement panel found that China provided trade-distorting domestic support in excess of its commitments each year from 2012-2015. This report will help American farmers compete on a more level playing field, and the United States expects China to quickly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.
Taiwan – Pharmaceutical Patent Dispute Mechanism: Taiwan needs to provide greater transparency and predictability in its pricing and reimbursement policies for pharmaceuticals, including innovative pharmaceuticals, in its health care system. With regard to pharmaceutical patents, in December 2017, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act calling for the establishment of a mechanism for early resolution of potential patent disputes. However, U.S. right holders remain concerned about whether implementation of this new system by Taiwan’s regulators will cover all pharmaceutical products. If coverage for biologics is included in the final implementing regulations, it will represent a promising step forward for Taiwan in its efforts to develop an innovative pharmaceutical sector.
Japan – Copyright Term: In 2018, Japan extended its copyright term for all works to 70 years or life of the author plus 70 years.
Middle East -
Israel – Customs Certificate Reform: As of January 10, 2018, U.S. exporters to Israel are no longer required to provide Israeli Customs a hard copy certificate of origin. Instead, U.S. exporters are simply required to print and sign a declaration on the invoice or on another commercial document.
Southeast Asia -
Indonesia – Import Licensing for Dairy Products Reform: Following extensive consultations with USTR and USDA officials, Indonesia amended its dairy import licensing regime to remove mandatory local partnership requirements, removing a significant barrier to U.S. dairy exports.
The Philippines – Agricultural Trade: Following Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) discussions, the United States and the Philippines released a Joint Statement in October addressing several longstanding agricultural trade issues:
- The Philippines recognized the U.S. interest in the extension of certain Philippine tariff rates on agricultural products and committed to expeditious consideration of petitions for the extension of such rates, including those on mechanically deboned poultry meat.
- The Philippines also took steps to address discriminatory treatment of imported versus domestically produced meat in wet markets by agreeing to collaborate with the United States on the development of cold chain requirements and best practices in the Philippines, taking into account international standards and guidelines.
- The Joint Statement noted the Philippines’ commitment to WTO-consistent valuation of agricultural imports for duty collection purposes, including the enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies prohibiting the use of reference pricing.
The Philippines – Geographical Indications (GIs): Concerning GIs, the Philippines committed in the Joint Statement to ensuring transparency, due process, and fairness, including by respecting prior trademark rights and not restricting the use of common names. The Philippines confirmed that it would not provide automatic GI protection, including to terms addressed as part of a trade agreement.
The Philippines – Automotive Standards: As part of the Joint Statement, the Philippines committed to continue acceptance of vehicle imports that meet multiple high-standard automotive standards, including the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This understanding is important to ensure that ASEAN harmonization efforts do not restrict U.S. auto producers’ access to the Philippines.
South/Central Asia -
India – Poultry and Poultry Products: Following a successful WTO dispute settlement challenge by the United States, in March 2018 India and the United States agreed to veterinary export certificates for the shipment to India of U.S. poultry and poultry products.
Pakistan – Market Access for Soybeans: The United States has advocated successfully for improved market access for U.S. soybeans in Pakistan. After advocacy under the U.S.-Pakistan TIFA, Pakistan changed certain requirements, which allowed U.S. soybeans to better access the Pakistani market. Since 2017, we have seen dramatic and continuous growth in U.S. soybean exports to Pakistan, which have risen from $136 million in 2016, to $426 million in 2017, and over $689 million in 2018.