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Non-Tariff Barriers

Road ClosedThe President's Trade Policy Agenda emphasizes Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) as major impediments to market access for U.S. firms.

USTR is currently addressing NTBs on multiple fronts.

We are addressing NTBs systemically and individually through the World Trade Organization (WTO) Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations, of which they are an integral and equally important component.

In NAMA, we are sponsoring proposals on trade in remanufactured goods; the labeling of textiles, apparel, footwear, and travel goods; NTBs pertaining to safety and electromagnetic compatibility for electrical and electronic products; and NTBs relating to technical barriers to trade for automotive products.  We are also a co-sponsor of a proposal promoting transparency in export licensing.

We are pushing for the reduction or elimination of NTBs in various regional contexts, such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and contributing to the analysis of NTBs and non-tariff measures at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

We are addressing priority NTBs of concern to U.S. firms in countries around the globe where appropriate.

Doha Negotiations

NTBs remain an integral and equally important component of the non-agricultural market access negotiations. In line with the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration, WTO Members continued to consider how NTBs could be addressed horizontally (i.e., across all sectors), vertically (i.e., pertaining to a single sector), and through a bilateral request/offer process.

In 2008, the United States tabled three draft proposed texts:

  • on transparency in export licensing

  • on non-tariff barriers pertaining to safety and electromagnetic compatibility for electronic products

  • on nontariff barriers relating to technical barriers to trade for automotive products.

The latter two, as well as five other NTB proposals -- including the U.S. proposal on remanufactured products and the U.S. proposal to facilitate and harmonize labeling requirements for textiles, clothing, footwear, and travel goods -- were identified by Members in July 2008, as priorities for further negotiation to reach legal agreements.

Related documents:

NAMA Chair's Negotiating Text (December 2008)

Annex 5:

NTB Textual Proposals (December 2008)

Related topics:

WTO Non-Agricultural Market Access