Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



USTR Promises to Fight Protectionism in the World

On March 31, 2009, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) transmitted to Congress the 2009 National Trade Estimate Report.  The USTR plans to “aggressively defend our rights and benefits under the rules-based trading system.”

Examples of trade barriers maintained by foreign governments that are outlined in this year’s National Trade Estimate Report and that USTR will seek to reduce include:

 

·         onerous testing and certification requirements on more than 1,200 consumer goods;

 

·         new requirements to register and inspect a broad range of imports;

 

·         ineffective enforcement against trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy;

 

·         burdensome import requirements or bans that are not based in science and not compliant with international standards, affecting beef and other animal products, horticulture, grains and processed products, and fruits and vegetables;

 

·         cumbersome and non-transparent approval processes for biotech products;

 

·         discriminatory excise taxes requiring imported products to pay rates 10 to 43 times higher than before;

 

·         prohibited export subsidies (e.g., for "national" brands) that are highly trade distorting; and

 

·         limitations to foreign participation in telecom markets, both basic and value added, through a multiplicity of barriers, including high basic capital requirements, and non-transparent and lengthy investment approvals.

 

In working to reduce these barriers, USTR will determine when moving to a dispute settlement phase under our trade agreements is the right course of action, with a focus on new and necessary cases that will provide maximum benefit for American workers producing goods and services for export markets.

The USTR may hear trade lawyers around the world yelling:

  • What about the U.S. protectionism?
  • What about the Buy America provisions? 
  • What about the cancelling of the Mexican Trucks pilot project? 
  • What about the Softwood Lumber Agreement? 
  • What about the U.S. subisization of black liquor (a buy-product or the pulp and paper manufacturing process)?
  • What about farm subsidies?
  • What about the APHIS fees?
  • What about the C-TPAT registration requirements?

The list could go on ...

In addition, the USTR will begin to monitor and enforce labor and environment provisions of our agreements to ensure that these obligations are being met on both sides.  The USTR will consult with Congress in assessing how this type of surveillance could be included in future NTE exercises.

Trade lawyers are asking, what about the U.S. desire to by-pass environmental propection assessments in order to quickly start infrastructure projects? 

Such statements could come back to bite the USTR as the U.S. may be the Party off-side its international commitments.

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