On March 31, 2021, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), released the 2021 National Trade Estimate (NTE) Report. The report, which is the first issued under the Biden Administration, provides a detailed inventory of significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, investment, and digital trade.

The NTE Report, which by statute, must be issued on or before March 31 each year, has served as a vehicle for first collecting a list of the most significant barriers to market access for US-based companies and then attacking particular barriers. It has become a valuable tool in helping administrations target their trade enforcement resources.

The report classifies foreign trade barriers in eleven categories. These categories cover government-imposed measures and policies that restrict, prevent, or impede the international exchange of goods and services, unduly hamper U.S. foreign direct investment or U.S. electronic commerce. The categories covered include:

  1. Import policies (e.g., tariffs and other import charges, quantitative restrictions, import licensing, preshipment inspection, customs barriers and shortcomings in trade facilitation or in valuation practices, and other market access barriers)
  2. Technical barriers to trade (e.g., unnecessarily trade restrictive standards, conformity assessment procedures, labeling, or technical regulations, including unnecessary or discriminatory technical regulations or standards for telecommunications products)
  3. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures (e.g., trade restrictions implemented through unwarranted measures not based on scientific evidence)
  4. Subsidies, especially export subsidies (e.g., subsidies contingent upon export performance and agricultural export subsidies that displace U.S. exports in third country markets) and local content subsidies (e.g., subsidies contingent on the purchase or use of domestic rather than imported goods)
  5. Government procurement (e.g., closed bidding and bidding processes that lack transparency)
  6. Intellectual property protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright, and trademark regimes and inadequate enforcement of intellectual property rights)
  7. Services barriers (e.g., prohibitions or restrictions on foreign participation in the market, discriminatory licensing requirements or regulatory standards, local-presence requirements, and unreasonable restrictions on what services may be offered)
  8. Barriers to digital trade and electronic commerce (e.g., barriers to cross-border data flows, including data localization requirements, discriminatory practices affecting trade in digital products, restrictions on the provision of Internet-enabled services, and other restrictive technology requirements)
  9. Investment barriers (e.g., limitations on foreign equity participation and on access to foreign government-funded research and development programs, local content requirements, technology transfer requirements and export performance requirements, and restrictions on repatriation of earnings, capital, fees and royalties)
  10. Competition (e.g., government-tolerated anticompetitive conduct of state-owned or private firms that restricts the sale or purchase of U.S. goods or services in the foreign country’s markets or abuse of competition laws to inhibit trade)
  11. Other barriers (e.g., barriers that encompass more than one category, such as bribery and corruption).

The full report can be viewed here.

The release of the 2021 NTE Report follows the March 1, 2021 release of the 2021 President’s Trade Agenda and 2020 Annual Report. USTR plans to release its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of trading partners’ protection of intellectual property rights by April 30, 2021.

For more information please contact  Robert Holleyman, John Brew, Jeffrey Snyder, Frances Hadfield, or Clayton Kaier.