Bush has requested that Congress extend for two years his
authority to negotiate trade agreements, and at the same
time the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)
has published its annual report on foreign trade barriers.
In the 2005
Report to the Congress on the Extension of Trade Promotion
Authority (TPA) released March 30, the president seeks
to extend TPA, otherwise known as fast track to July 2007.
It is currently scheduled to expire July 2005.
"Extending TPA until July 1, 2007,
is critical to maintaining U.S. global leadership on trade,
furthering the Administration's successful 'competitive
liberalization' strategy, and concluding negotiations already
underway," the report says.
It cites a number of trade negotiations
the administration wants to conclude in the World Trade
Organization (WTO) and with Panama, Andean countries, Thailand,
the Southern African Customs Union, Oman and the United
Arab Emirates, as well as the Free Trade Area of the Americas
"The Administration considers that
the progress that has been made in each of these negotiations
in achieving TPA objectives justifies continuing -- and
completing -- the negotiations," it says.
Under TPA, Congress restricts itself only
to approve or reject a negotiated trade agreement, within
strict time limits and without amendments. Bush signed TPA
into law in 2002.
TPA would be extended two years automatically
unless Congress votes to block extension. Republican leaders
of Congress have indicated they might try to prevent any
disapproval resolution from advancing beyond committee consideration
to the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Not yet submitted to Congress are two trade
agreements already negotiated: one with Bahrain and the
other with five Central American countries and the Dominican
Republic (CAFTA-DR), the latter facing strong opposition
in Congress. Because they were signed before July 2005,
those agreements are already covered by TPA.
Also released March 30 was the 2005
National Trade Estimate (NTE) Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.
A USTR press release cites a few of the
major trade problems the United States faces from the 61
countries and regions covered by the 684-page NTE Report:
-- "Epidemic levels of counterfeiting
and piracy in China;"
-- Japan's continued ban on imports of U.S.
beef and beef products; and
-- Mexico's imposition of a 20 percent tax
on beverages and syrups made with sweeteners other than
In a teleconference with reporters following
release of the report, a U.S. trade official mentioned two
more notable trade problems: unfair regulation by China
of direct selling in that country and an unfair customs
regime in the European Union (EU).
The trade official said that USTR attempts
to resolve trade problems in a number of ways, occasionally
bringing a case for dispute settlement in the WTO. USTR
has filed a case on the EU customs practices.
Thirty days after release of the NTE Report
-- on April 29 -- USTR will make determinations under what
is called the Special 301 provision of U.S. trade law concerning
what actions it plans to take against foreign countries'
failure to protect U.S. copyrights, patents and other intellectual
property rights (IPR).
USTR has already begun what it calls an
"out-of-cycle" review of China's enforcement of
IPR. The trade official said no date has been set for concluding
Following is the text of the USTR press
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
Executive Office of the President
USTR Press Releases are available on the
USTR website at www.ustr.gov
For Immediate Release:
March 30, 2005
Richard Mills / Neena Moorjani
USTR Releases 2005 Inventory of Foreign
WASHINGTON -- The Office of the United States
Trade Representative today released its 2005 National Trade
Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE), an annual
report documenting foreign trade and investment barriers
and U.S. efforts to reduce and eliminate those barriers.
"Eliminating trade barriers so that
American workers, farmers, and businesses can have increased
access overseas for our goods and services is one of USTR's
core missions," said Acting U.S. Trade Representative
Peter F. Allgeier. "The NTE report highlights many
of the barriers, large and small, that Americans face around
the world. Every day, USTR works closely with other U.S.
Government agencies to press our foreign trading partners
to eliminate their barriers.
"Consultations, negotiations and litigation
are among the tools at our disposal, and we are using them
aggressively to make sure that Americans are treated fairly,"
The NTE provides an account of barriers
and unfair trade practices to American exports of goods,
services, and farm products. Besides limiting opportunities
for U.S. businesses and farmers, such barriers also undermine
the benefits that foreign countries, particularly developing
countries, see from trade liberalization. The NTE covers
61 major trading partners in each region of the world and
profiles policies restricting market access.
While the NTE report itself details successful
efforts to reduce barriers to Americans around the world,
some noteworthy examples of success in the past year include:
-- The agreement with China that ensured
that U.S. semiconductor manufacturers can maintain and expand
their $2 billion export business to China. The agreement
followed the filing of the first and to date the only WTO
dispute against China in an effort to eliminate China's
discriminatory value-added tax policies on semiconductors.
-- A resolution with Korea over its plan
to mandate a domestic standard (the Wireless Internet Platform
for Interoperability standard, or WIPI) for mobile phone
applications, shutting out competing systems already operating
in the market, including a U.S. system with over 7 million
Korean subscribers. However, as a result of extensive negotiations
with the United States concluding in April 2004, the Korean
government will allow other applications platforms to co-exist
in the market.
-- An agreement with Mexico to re-open its
market to U.S. beef and related products. Following the
finding of one imported cow with BSE in December 2003, Mexico
had closed its border to approximately $1.3 billion of U.S.
beef and related products. In the Spring of 2004, Mexico
removed its prohibitions on most products, equating to approximately
$1.2 billion of the former trade value.
Major ongoing problems include:
-- The epidemic levels of counterfeiting
and piracy in China, which cause serious economic harm to
U.S. businesses in virtually every sector of the economy.
The United States is currently conducting an out-of-cycle
review under the Special 301 provisions of U.S. trade law
to assess China's IPR regime. We will take the appropriate
action necessary at the conclusion of that review to ensure
that China develops and implements an effective system of
IPR enforcement, as required by the TRIPS (Trade Related
Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement.
-- The reopening of Japan's market to U.S.
beef and beef products after Japan banned imports when one
BSE-infected imported cow was found in the United States
in late 2003. Although the United States has addressed all
science and safety concerns about U.S. beef, Japan still
has not permitted the resumption of trade in this roughly
$1.7 billion annual export market.
-- The imposition of a 20 percent tax by
Mexico on beverages and syrups made with sweeteners other
than cane sugar. This beverage tax violates Mexico's WTO
obligations because it discriminates against U.S. products
such as high fructose corn-syrup (HFCS), a corn-based sweetener
that directly competes with sugar in many applications.
The United States, after extensive attempts to negotiate
a solution, filed a WTO case, which is currently in the
The USTR works closely with the rest of
the U.S. Government, including American Embassies, to prepare
the NTE report, a document required by the Omnibus Trade
and Competitiveness Act of 1988. The information in the
report is gathered from the Administration's monitoring
program and from the public and private sector trade advisory
committees. These issues are also discussed in detail in
meetings with Members of Congress throughout the year.
Later this week, the USTR will announce
the results of the 1377 Review, a report that focuses on
the barriers facing U.S. telecommunications services and
equipment providers, and lays out the specific telecommunications-related
issues on which USTR will focus its efforts this year. Thirty
days after the NTE report is submitted to Congress, the
USTR will issue its "Special 301" annual report
on the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property
rights (IPR) protection in trading partners around the world.
The information gathered for the NTE report plays a key
role in the decision making process in both of these reports.
A copy of the report is available at www.ustr.gov