The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) this week published the 2015 National Trade Estimate Report (NTE), the thirtieth such annual inventory of foreign trade barriers in the United States’ largest export markets, including almost 60 countries around the world.
A statement released by USTR Michael Froman says the Obama administration has been “working around the clock to fight unwarranted barriers to our exports around the world” and proudly touts that it has “racked-up significant accomplishments in protecting the benefits that trade delivers.”
Among the successes highlighted are progress made with China on biotechnology, including the creation of a new bilateral dialogue that aims to speed up the approval process for biotech corn and soybean varieties in that country. The report also considers Mexico’s reform of its energy and telecommunications sectors as a success, which the document says will create “significant new opportunities for U.S. investors, manufacturers and service suppliers.”
This year’s report includes special features concerning Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) barriers that are felt to be impacting agricultural exports and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) that are regarded as unfairly restricting manufacturing exports. Some of the achievements in these areas include: removal of a key restriction on Chinese imports of corn and dried distillers grains; expanded access for beef exports to Vietnam; lifting of a ban on pork exports to Malaysia; withdrawal of a proposed new beef grading scheme in Chile; and the establishment of an organic foods equivalency arrangement with South Korea.
Regarding Canada, most of the complaints highlighted in the NTE are virtually unchanged from previous years such as the restrictions on the export of many varieties of seeds from the U.S., lack of access to the Canadian grading system for U.S. wheat and barley grain exports, and of course Canada’s domestic agricultural supply management system regulating the dairy, chicken, turkey, and egg industries, which the U.S. has for many years strenuously objected to.