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Archive for the ‘trade’ Category

CRS — Brazil: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Brazil: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The United States has traditionally enjoyed cooperative relations with Brazil, which is the seventh-largest economy in the world and is recognized by the Obama Administration’s National Security Strategy as an emerging center of influence. Administration officials have often highlighted Brazil’s status as a multicultural democracy, referring to the country as a natural partner that shares values and goals with the United States. Bilateral ties have been strained from time to time, however, as the countries’ occasionally divergent national interests and independent foreign policies have led to disagreements. U.S.-Brazilian relations have been particularly strained over the past year as a result of alleged National Security Agency (NSA) activities inside Brazil. Nevertheless, the countries continue to engage on issues such as trade, energy, security, racial equality, and the environment.

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CRS — Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Related Non-Tariff Barriers to Agricultural Trade

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Related Non-Tariff Barriers to Agricultural Trade (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are the laws, rules, standards, and procedures that governments employ to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, toxins, and other contaminants. Examples include meat and poultry processing standards to reduce pathogens, residue limits for pesticides in foods, and regulation of agricultural biotechnology. Technical barriers to trade (TBT) cover technical regulations, product standards, environmental regulations, and voluntary procedures relating to human health and animal welfare. Examples include trademarks and patents, labeling and packaging requirements, certification and inspection procedures, product specifications, and marketing of biotechnology. SPS and TBT measures both comprise a group of widely divergent standards and standards-based measures that countries use to regulate markets, protect their consumers, and preserve natural resources.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), SPS and TBT measures have become more prominent concerns for agricultural exporters and policy makers, as tariff-related barriers to trade have been reduced by various multilateral, regional, and bilateral negotiations and trade agreements. The concerns include whether SPS and TBT measures might be used to unfairly discriminate against imported products or create unnecessary obstacles to trade in agricultural, food, and other traded goods. Notable U.S. trade disputes involving SPS and TBT measures have included a European Union (EU) ban on U.S. meats treated with growth-promoting hormones and also certain pathogen reduction treatments, and an EU moratorium on approvals of biotechnology products, among other types of trade concerns with other countries. Foreign countries have also objected to various U.S. trade measures.

CRS — Small Business Administration Trade and Export Promotion Programs

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Small Business Administration Trade and Export Promotion Programs (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Library)

According to Census data, approximately 1% of small businesses in the United States currently export. With roughly three-quarters of world purchasing power and almost 95% of world consumers living outside of U.S. borders, more attention is being paid to the potential of small business export promotion programs to grow small businesses and contribute to the national economic recovery. In addition, some Members of Congress believe that the contributions of small businesses to commercial innovation and economic growth could be enhanced through greater access to growing international markets.

Consistent with these policy goals, the Small Business Administration (SBA) provides export promotion and financing services to small businesses through its loan guarantee programs, management and training programs, and other initiatives. SBA’s Office of International Trade (OIT) coordinates these activities as it assists with four stages of export promotion: (1) identifying small businesses interested in export promotion; (2) preparing small businesses to export; (3) connecting small businesses to export opportunities; and (4) supporting small businesses once they find export opportunities.

CRS — Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Library)

The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (TAAF) program provides technical assistance and cash benefits to producers of agricultural commodities and fishermen who experience adverse economic effects caused by increased imports. Congress first authorized this program in 2002, and made significant changes to it in the 2009 economic stimulus package (P.L. 111-5). The 2009 revisions were intended to make it easier for commodity producers and fishermen to qualify for program benefits, and provided over $200 million in funding through December 2010. Subsequently, P.L. 112-40 (enacted in October 2011) authorized $202.5 million through December 2013. No program activity occurred, because Congress did not appropriate funds.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is required to follow a two-step process in administering TAAF program benefits. First, a group of producers must be certified eligible to apply. Second, a producer in a certified group must meet specified requirements to be approved to receive technical assistance and cash payments.

CRS — U.S. Crude Oil Export Policy: Background and Considerations

April 17, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Crude Oil Export Policy: Background and Considerations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

During an era of oil price controls and following the 1973 Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries oil embargo, Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), which directs the President “to promulgate a rule prohibiting the export of crude oil” produced in the United States. Crude oil export restrictions are codified in the Export Administration Regulations administered by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)—a Commerce Department agency. The President has some powers to allow certain crude oil exports if an exemption is determined to be in the national interest.

Ratifying and Implementing Trade and Investment Treaties in Canada

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Ratifying and Implementing Trade and Investment Treaties in Canada
Source: Parliamentary Library of Canada

Under Canada’s constitutional system, the conduct of foreign affairs is a royal prerogative power of the federal Crown.

Consequently, the Executive Branch has the exclusive power to negotiate and conclude international treaties. Parliament has the exclusive power to enact legislation to implement those treaties.

As Canada continues to enter into such treaties, a number of important questions arise:

  • What is the interaction between Canadian and international law in the treaty-making and implementation processes, particularly in relation to trade and investment?
  • What measures must the Executive and Legislative branches take so that these treaties can come into force?
  • What formal role do the provinces and territories play in the negotiation, ratification and implementation of trade and investment treaties?

Tech Trade in the States: A State by State Overview of International Trade in Tech Goods

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Tech Trade in the States: A State by State Overview of International Trade in Tech Goods (PDF)
Source: Tech America Foundation

TechAmerica Foundation proudly presents our 2014 edition of Tech Trade in the States: A State-by-State Overview of International Trade of Tech Goods. It provides 2012 data on tech trade at the national level and export data for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The report also provides an estimate as to the number of jobs that are supported by export activities.

China’s Hunger for U.S. Planes and Cars: Assessing the Risks

April 8, 2014 Comments off

China’s Hunger for U.S. Planes and Cars: Assessing the Risks (PDF)
Source: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

The U.S. trade deficit with China continues to grow but at a slower rate. A key reason for this is the boom in U.S. automotive and aerospace shipments to China. As China becomes more affluent and urbanized, ordinary Chinese are driving more cars and traveling more by frequently by air. China’s future demand, however, could be affected by pollution, traffic bottlenecks, and other factors. U.S. companies must also contend with China’s industrial policy, which tilts the playing field toward domestic industry. In the long run, technology transfer and off-shoring could erode U.S. competitiveness and take business away from U.S. plants.

The Trade Deficit: The Biggest Obstacle to Full Employment

April 7, 2014 Comments off

The Trade Deficit: The Biggest Obstacle to Full Employment
Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research

Dean Baker argues that taking aim at the persistent trade deficit, through which the United States exports labor demand, would help a great deal in moving the job market toward full employment. Moreover, he argues that trade is a “policy variable,” amenable to interventions that push back against competitors who place a fat thumb on the exchange-rate scale to keep their imports cheap and our exports expensive.

Baker notes various ideas that could counter currency management. First, the US could pass legislation that gave the government the right to treat currency management as a violation of international trading rules, leading to offsetting tariffs. Second, we could also tax foreign holdings of United States Treasuries, making the usual tactic of currency managers more expensive. Third, we could institute reciprocity into the process of currency management: If a country wants to buy our Treasuries, we must be able to buy theirs.

CRS — Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit (updated)

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The U.S. merchandise trade deficit is a part of the overall U.S. balance of payments, a summary statement of all economic transactions between the residents of the United States and the rest of the world, during a given period of time. Some Members of Congress and other observers have grown concerned over the magnitude of the U.S. merchandise trade deficit and the associated increase in U.S. dollar-denominated assets owned by foreigners. International trade recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the subsequent slowdown in global economic activity that reduced global trade flows and, consequently, reduced the size of the U.S. trade deficit. Now, however, U.S. exporters face new challenges with economies in Europe and Asia confronting increased risks of a second phase of slow growth. This report provides an overview of the U.S. balance of payments, an explanation of the broader role of capital flows in the U.S. economy, an explanation of how the country finances its trade deficit or a trade surplus, and the implications for Congress and the country of the large inflows of capital from abroad.

USITC — Trade Barriers that U.S. SMEs Perceive as Affecting Exports to the EU

April 4, 2014 Comments off

Trade Barriers that U.S. SMEs Perceive as Affecting Exports to the EU
Source: U.S. International Trade Commission

Standards and a variety of other trade barriers in the European Union disproportionately affect the exports of U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises more than those of large firms, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in its new publication Trade Barriers that U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Perceive as Affecting Exports to the European Union.

The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, completed the report for the U.S. Trade Representative.

As requested, the report catalogs trade-related barriers that U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and related industry associations reported as limiting their exports to the European Union (EU). Highlights of the report follow.

SMEs explained that many EU trade barriers, particularly those related to standards and regulations, affect their exports. They stated that complying with EU regulations and procedures are costly for all firms, but potentially prohibit SMEs from exporting to the EU because such costs are often the same regardless of a firm’s size or export revenue. Other difficulties that were cited include protection of trade secrets, high patenting costs, and logistics challenges, especially customs requirements, inconsistent Harmonized System classifications, and the EU’s value-added tax system.

  • SMEs and related industry associations described many industry-specific barriers. For example:
  • SMEs in the chemical industry frequently cited the high cost of complying with the EU chemical regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals or REACH).
  • SMEs exporting cosmetics expressed difficulties meeting the EU’s cosmetics directive.
  • SME clothing exporters said that they were disproportionately affected by the recent EU retaliatory additional duties on U.S. exports of women’s denim jeans.
  • SMEs producing machinery, electronic, transportation, and other goods cited a lack of harmonized international standards and mutual recognition for conformity assessment, as well as problems complying with technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures.

A number of barriers reportedly constrain U.S. exports of agricultural products. SMEs and industry groups in the corn, dried fruit, animal feed, cheese, and wheat industries cited high tariffs, stringent and inconsistent EU rules and testing mandates, lack of a science-based regulatory focus (especially for genetically modified traits), lack of harmonization between U.S. and EU standards, and the EU’s protected designations of origin (PDOs). The U.S. poultry and lamb industries reported that they are effectively banned from exporting to the EU.
U.S. services SMEs in the healthcare, engineering, testing, and audiovisual industries highlighted a lack of mutual recognition of licensing, credentials, and standards, as well as issues with broadcasting and film quotas, language dubbing requirements, government subsidies, and safeguarding intellectual property.
In certain industries, SMEs or industry associations also provided suggestions for increasing U.S. SME transatlantic trade with the EU and, at times, stories of successfully exporting to the EU.

Think Tank Review — Special Issue — EU-US Relations

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Think Tank Review — Special Issue — EU-US Relations
Source: European University Institute Library

On the occasion of the EU-US Summit we compiled the first Special Issue of the Think Tank Review, featuring publications on EU-US relations referenced in the Think Tank Reviews since its inception in late 2013. The collection has an obvious focus on the negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), however we also found analyses all other recent highlights in transatlantic relations, from security to finance.

AU — The G20: a quick guide

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The G20: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This is a quick guide to basic information about the G20, as well as links to useful summary resources. The G20 background section includes the G20’s history, its members, the hosting system and G20 meeting processes, as well as a brief discussion of selected policy areas. Material on Australia and the G20 includes Australia’s involvement in the G20, Australia’s G20 goals for 2014 and speeches and press releases on the G20. A short list of links provides access to more resources on the G20.

Value of 2013 U.S.-NAFTA Freight on Surface Modes Rose from 2012; Declined on Air and Vessel

March 25, 2014 Comments off

Value of 2013 U.S.-NAFTA Freight on Surface Modes Rose from 2012; Declined on Air and Vessel
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Three of the five transportation modes – the surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline – carried more U.S. trade with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico by value in 2013 than in 2012 while the value of freight transported by air and vessel decreased, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1 and Table 2).

Trade by pipeline also grew the most from year-to-year, 7.7 percent, partly due to the value of petroleum products, as the overall value on all modes rose 2.6 percent. Smaller increases took place on rail (4.6 percent) and truck (2.2) while vessel trade fell for the second consecutive year (-2.4) and air trade declined for the third straight year (-1.0) (Tables 1, 2).

CRS — Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990 (updated)

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report, updated as warranted, discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, or Republic of China (ROC), including policy issues for Congress and legislation. Congress has oversight of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, which has governed arms sales to Taiwan since 1979, when the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) instead of the ROC. Two other relevant parts of the “one China” policy are the August 17, 1982, U.S.-PRC Joint Communique and the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been significant. The United States also expanded military ties with Taiwan after the PRC’s missile firings in 1995-1996. However, the U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty terminated in 1979.

Tariffs, Social Status, and Gender in India

March 14, 2014 Comments off

Tariffs, Social Status, and Gender in India (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

This paper shows that trade policy can have significant intergenerational distributional effects across gender and social strata. We compare women and births in rural Indian districts more or less exposed to tariff cuts. For low socioeconomic status women, tariff cuts increase the likelihood of a female birth and these daughters are less likely to die during infancy and childhood. On the contrary, high-status women are less likely to give birth to girls and their daughters have higher mortality rates when more exposed to tariff declines. Consistent with the fertility-sex ratio trade-off in high son preference societies, fertility increases for low-status women and decreases for high-status women. An exploration of the mechanisms suggests that the labor market returns for low-status women (relative to men) and high-status men (relative to women) have increased in response to trade liberalization. Thus, altered expectations about future returns from daughters relative to sons seem to have caused families to change the sex-composition of and health investments in their children.

The Atlas of Economic Complexity

March 14, 2014 Comments off

The Atlas of Economic Complexity
Source: Harvard Center for International Development

The Atlas online is a powerful interactive tool that enables users to visualize a country’s total trade, track how these dynamics change over time and explore growth opportunities for more than a hundred countries worldwide.

The Atlas is used by investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, students and the general public to better understand the competitive landscape of countries around the globe. For any given country, The Atlas shows which products are produced and exported; The Atlas can then use this information to suggest products a country could begin manufacturing in order to fuel economic growth. As a dynamic resource, The Atlas is continually evolving with new data and features to help analyze economic growth and development.

The Atlas can answer questions such as:

  • What does a country import and export?
  • How has its trade evolved over time?
  • What are the drivers of export growth?
  • Which new industries are likely to emerge in a given geography? Which are likely to disappear?
  • What are the GDP growth prospects of a given country in the next 5-10 years, based on its productive capabilities?

CRS — The Role of Trade Secrets in Innovation Policy

March 14, 2014 Comments off

The Role of Trade Secrets in Innovation Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Many businesses have developed proprietary information that provides a competitive advantage because it is not known to others. As the United States continues its shift to a knowledge- and service-based economy, the strength and competitiveness of domestic firms increasingly depends upon their know-how and intangible assets. Trade secrets are the form of intellectual property that protects this sort of confidential information.

Trade secret law protects secret, valuable business information from misappropriation by others. Subject matter ranging from marketing data to manufacturing know-how may be protected under the trade secret laws. Trade secret status is not limited to a fixed number of years, but endures so long as the information is valuable and maintained as a secret. A trade secret is misappropriated when it has been obtained through the abuse of a confidential relationship or improper means of acquisition.

A number of competing innovation policy concerns help shape the particular doctrines that comprise trade secret law. The availability of legal protection for trade secrets potentially promotes innovation, encourages firms to invest in employee development, and confirms standards of commercial ethics and morality. On the other hand, trade secret protection involves the suppression of information, which may hinder competition and the proper functioning of the marketplace. An overly robust trade secret law also could restrain employee mobility and promote investment in costly, but socially inefficient security measures.

Frequently Asked Questions — Responsible sourcing of minerals originating conflict-affected and high-risk areas: towards an integrated EU approach

March 13, 2014 Comments off

Responsible sourcing of minerals originating conflict-affected and high-risk areas: towards an integrated EU approach
Source: European Commission

Profits from the extraction of and trade in minerals sourced from unstable regions affected by armed conflict can play a role in intensifying and perpetuating violent conflict. This can take various forms including where armed groups or their affiliates illegally control mines and mineral trading routes, use forced labour or commit other human rights abuses, or tax or extort money or minerals.

As a result, armed groups and security forces in conflict regions can finance their activities from the proceeds of mining and trading of minerals which later enter the global supply chain. Companies further down the production chain run the risk of supporting armed activities and have an interest in sourcing from such regions responsibly.

The best documented and known case relates to the problems in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the United Nations frequently reports on the devastating instability created by foreign and national armed groups generating revenues through their control over natural resources. The Heidelberg Institute for International Research estimates that, together, natural resources and conflict account for roughly 20% of global conflicts.

Under the US Dodd-Frank Act, section 1502, ‘conflict minerals’ are defined as minerals containing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold originating in the DRC and the adjoining countries. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Due Diligence guidance is based on the same four minerals but is not geographically specific. The EU proposal uses the same basis as OECD.

CRS — Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports

March 11, 2014 Comments off

Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Agricultural imports under the GSP totaled $2.5 billion in 2012, nearly 13% of the value of all U.S. GSP imports. Leading agricultural imports include processed foods and food processing inputs, sugar and sugar confectionery, cocoa, processed and fresh fruits and vegetables, beverages and drinking waters, olive oil, processed meats, and miscellaneous food preparations and inputs for further processing. The majority of these imports are from Thailand, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey, which combined account for nearly two-thirds of total agricultural GSP imports.

Some in Congress have continued to call for changes to the program that could limit GSP benefits to certain countries, among other changes. Opinion within the U.S. agriculture industry is mixed, reflecting both support for and opposition to the current program. Starting in 2014, the European Union is implementing additional reforms to its own GSP program.

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