Since 1986, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has produced an annual National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE), which provides an overview of major foreign barriers to U.S. exports, effects of these barriers on the value of U.S. exports, and actions taken to eliminate barriers.
According to 2013 USTR, the report covers:
This report is based upon information compiled within USTR, the Departments of Commerce and
Agriculture, and other U.S. Government agencies, and supplemented with information provided in
response to a notice published in the Federal Register, and by members of the private sector trade advisory committees and U.S. Embassies abroad.
Trade barriers elude fixed definitions, but may be broadly defined as government laws, regulations, policies, or practices that either protect domestic goods and servicesfrom foreign competition, artificially stimulate exports of particular domestic goods and services, or fail to provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights.
This report classifies foreign trade barriers into nine different categories. These categories cover
government-imposed measures and policies that restrict, prevent, or impede the international exchange of goods and services. They include:
- Import policies (e.g., tariffs and other import charges, quantitative restrictions, import licensing, and customs barriers);
- Government procurement (e.g., "buy national" policies and closed bidding);
- Export subsidies (e.g., export financing on preferential terms and agricultural export subsidies that displace U.S. exports in third country markets);
- Lack of intellectual property protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright, and trademark regimes and enforcement of intellectual property rights);
- Services barriers (e.g., limits on the range of financial services offered by foreign financial institutions, regulation of international data flows, restrictions on the use of foreign data processing, and barriers to the provision of services by foreign professionals);
- 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);
- 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;
- Trade restrictions affecting electronic commerce (e.g., tariff and nontariff measures, burdensome and discriminatory regulations and standards, and discriminatory taxation); and
- Other barriers (barriers that encompass more than one category, e.g., bribery and corruption, or that affect a single sector).