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USTR Seeks Public Input on Foreign Trade Barriers


New York, Nov 03, 2003

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is seeking examples and descriptions of situations where standards, certifications, and/or self-declarations of conformance issues have been barriers to trade over the last year. An October 31 Federal Register notice announced the “Request for Public Comment With Respect to the Annual National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.” Public comments are due no later than Friday, December 12, 2003 – no submissions will be accepted after this firm deadline.

The input gathered will assist the USTR in publishing its annual National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE) as required by the Trade and Tariff Act of 1984. The Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) is requesting interested parties to provide written comments that will assist in identifying “significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods, services and overseas direct investment for inclusion in the NTE.” Particularly important are impediments materially affecting the actual and potential financial performance of an industry sector. In order to ensure the timeliest processing of submissions, the department of Commerce will receive comments in response to this Notice.

Information is requested relating to ten categories of foreign trade barriers:

  1. import policies (e.g., tariffs and other import charges, quantitative restrictions, import licensing, and customs barriers);
  2. standards, testing, labeling, and certification (including unnecessarily restrictive application of phytosanitary standards, refusal to accept U.S. manufacturers' self-certification of conformance to foreign product standards, and environmental restrictions);
  3. government procurement (e.g., ``buy national'' policies and closed bidding);
  4. export subsidies (e.g., export financing on preferential terms and agricultural export subsidies that displace U.S. exports in third country markets);
  5. lack of intellectual property protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright, and trademark regimes);
  6. services barriers (e.g., limits on the range of financial services offered by foreign financial institutions, regulation of international data flows, restrictions on the use of data processing, quotas on imports of foreign films, and barriers to the provision of services by professionals (e.g., lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers, nurses, etc.);
  7. investment barriers (e.g., limitations on foreign equity participation and on access to foreign government-funded R&D consortia, local content, technology transfer and export performance requirements, and restrictions on repatriation of earnings, capital, fees and royalties);
  8. anticompetitive practices with trade effects tolerated by foreign governments (including anticompetitive activities of both state-owned and private firms that apply to services or to goods and that restrict the sale of U.S. products to any firm, not just to foreign firms that perpetuate the practices);
  9. trade restrictions affecting electronic commerce (e.g., tariff and non-tariff measures, burdensome and discriminatory regulations and standards, and discriminatory taxation); and
  10. other barriers (i.e., barriers that encompass more than one category, e.g., bribery and corruption, or that affect a single sector).

Written comments may be sent to: NTE Comments, Office of Trade and Economic Analysis, Room H-2815, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC, 20230. Electronic submissions should be sent via ntecomments@ita.doc.gov. The Institute asks that ANSI members also send a copy of their comments to ANSI's vice president of public policy, David Karmol (dkarmol@ansi.org).

Procedural questions about transmitting comments or viewing public submissions should be directed to Ms. Marva Thompson, (202) 482-2185, or Mr. Howard Schreier, (202) 482-4180, U.S. Department of Commerce. Questions regarding the report or its subject matter should be directed to Ms. Gloria Blue, Office of Policy Coordination, Office of the United States Trade Representative (202) 395-3475.

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel