Today, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued the annual National Trade Estimate (NTE) report to Congress which describes significant barriers to U.S. trade and investment plus the actions USTR and others in the U.S. government are taking to address them. Click here to go to the report. Again this year, USTR has issued, along with the NTE, parallel reports on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Barriers.  The National Association of Manufacturers welcomes the identification of these barriers and urges the USTR to go on to seeking their elimination. 

Manufacturers are adversely affected by non-tariff barriers including  standards and conformity assessment issues around the world.  They can add significantly to the cost of an export, often a multiple of the tariff rate that is charged.  For example, a report on the impact of non-tariff barriers in Asia found that they can have a tariff equivalent ranging from 11.7% to 58.5% in one country and ranging from 6.3% to 60.5% in another! 

The NAM recognizes that not all non-tariff trade barriers are illegal under international trade rules.  However, when the U.S. negotiates a trade agreement, it has the opportunity to seek the elimination of many of these non-tariff barriers…just as it has done in the pending Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements.  So if we want to get serious about tackling non-tariff barriers, the United States must pass these three FTAs and negotiate more.

 To tackle the barriers you have got to get into the game.

Stephen Jacobs is director of international business policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

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