The International Trade Administration (ITA) released a new report today that finds 92 percent of U.S. goods exports in 2015—more than $1.3 trillion—were potentially affected by foreign technical regulations that could have a significant trade impact.
“This report demonstrates the pervasiveness of technical regulations and their potential to affect U.S. exports,” said Acting U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Ken Hyatt. “Regulations and testing and certification procedures that diverge from international standards—especially in ways that are unnecessarily trade-restrictive—can create challenges for U.S. exporters. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will address many of these challenges by helping to create an open and transparent environment in the Asia-Pacific Region.”
Technical regulations include mandatory requirements for labeling, testing, or manufacturing products—as well as procedures to certify compliance with such requirements—that must be met in order to get a product on the market. The report analyzes World Trade Organization (WTO) members’ notifications under the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement from January 2006 to mid-August 2015 to focus on technical regulations that could significantly affect trade but are either not in accordance with relevant international standards or for which no international standards exist.
Several heavily-traded sectors were among the most frequently notified: machinery and electronics, vehicles, and mineral fuels. Chemicals, cosmetics, and several food products were also frequently notified. Besides the United States, the leading WTO members by number of notifications included the European Union , China, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Uganda, South Korea, Brazil, Kenya, Qatar, Bahrain, Japan, and Canada. However, notification practices vary among members, with some notifying infrequently.
“To help U.S. exporters, it is critical to ensure transparency, stakeholder participation, and fairness when our trading partners develop standards and technical regulations,” said Acting Under Secretary Hyatt, “which is exactly what TPP will do.”
The full report can be viewed at http://www.trade.gov/td/osip/documents/osip_standards_trade_full_paper_2016.pdf.
The report, “Standards and Regulations: Measuring the Link to Goods Trade,” also highlights the industries that are most commonly regulated and the countries that frequently notify their regulations to the WTO.
Compliments of the International Trade Administration