WITH the goal of doubling American exports by the end of 2014, the U.S. Trade Representative continues to work on eliminating barriers to trade.
Acting USTR Demetrios Marantis sent three reports to President Barack Obama and Congress April 1 detailing significant accomplishments the Administration has made in reducing or removing foreign government barriers to U.S. exports.
U.S. food and agricultural exports reached an all-time high in 2012 of more than $145 billion, an increase of $4 billion over 2011, according to USTR.
In addition to highlighting progress made over the past year, the National Trade Estimate's "Report on Foreign Trade Barriers," the "Report on Sanitary & Phytosanitary (SPS) Barriers to Trade" and the "Report on Technical Barriers to Trade" (TBT) describe current barriers to U.S. exports and detail how the Administration is addressing these barriers so U.S. exports can continue to grow and support more jobs for American workers.
In its fourth annual SPS report, USTR outlined actions the trade arm has taken to identify and remove barriers facing U.S. food and agricultural goods. SPS measures are rules and procedures governments use to ensure that foods and beverages are safe to consume and to protect animals and plants from pests and diseases.
USTR explained that many SPS measures are "fully justified, but too often, governments cloak discriminatory and protectionist trade measures in the guise of ensuring human, animal or plant safety."
Among many other efforts, U.S. negotiators successfully removed specific SPS barriers to beef markets in El Salvador, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and Taiwan. A USTR fact sheet noted that the agency expects the combination of these market openings to increase U.S. beef and beef product exports by hundreds of millions of dollars from the $5.5 billion-plus value of these exports in 2012.
The Administration worked with authorities in Taiwan to adopt and implement in August 2012 a maximum residue limit in beef for the feed additive ractopamine. Following implementation of the maximum limit and labeling, monthly shipments of U.S. beef to Taiwan more than doubled -- from $2 million to $5 million per month -- and remain at record levels, USTR said.
With the entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement on May 15, 2012, the two governments resolved significant SPS barriers for U.S. poultry products and rough (paddy) rice. For 2012, U.S. exports of poultry and poultry products to Colombia were valued at nearly $36 million, up 50% from 2011. U.S. exports of rice (both milled and paddy) to Colombia skyrocketed from $3 million in 2011 to $57 million in 2012.
The Administration also helped improve market access for U.S. cherries entering Korea and gained access to China for certain pears grown in the U.S.
In February, the European Union eliminated its ban on the use of lactic acid as a pathogen reduction treatment for beef and issued regulations to allow the import and transshipment of live swine. USTR said the lactic acid and live swine approvals were significant breakthroughs on longstanding barriers to U.S. exports.
Lactic acid, which has been widely and safely used in the U.S. for many years, is the first pathogen reduction treatment to be approved by the EU on any kind of meat or poultry product. Being able to export product treated with lactic acid will allow more U.S. beef exporters to take advantage of access provided under EU beef quotas.
The TBT report describes unwarranted or overly burdensome standards that make it difficult for American manufacturers to sell their products abroad. In 2012, the Administration successfully addressed several of the TBT barriers identified in the previous year's report, which should make it easier for U.S. products to meet the standards and access the markets of these trading partners.
For example, the Administration's work with Costa Rica and El Salvador to eliminate a burdensome and unnecessary certification requirement will facilitate exports of processed meat products to these markets.
In addition, USTR reached an agreement with Brazil on certification requirements for meat processing facilities and meat products that maintains access for U.S. exports.