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17 September 2001
United States: September 2001

The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its sixth review of the United States on 14 and 17 September 2001. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.

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The review enables the TPRB to conduct a collective examination of the full range of trade policies and practices of each WTO member countries at regular periodic intervals to monitor significant trends and developments which may have an impact on the global trading system.

The review is based on two reports which are prepared respectively by the WTO Secretariat and the government under review and which cover all aspects of the country's trade policies, including its domestic laws and regulations, the institutional framework, bilateral, regional and other preferential agreements, the wider economic needs and the external environment. A record of the discussion and the Chairperson's summing-up together with these two reports will be published in due course at the complete trade policy review of Cameroon and will be available from the WTO Secretariat, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, 1211 Geneva 21.

Since December 1989, the following reports have been completed: Argentina (1992 and 1999), Australia (1989, 1994 and 1998), Austria (1992), Bahrain (2000) Bangladesh (1992 and 2000), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993 and 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992, 1996 and 2000), Burkina Faso (1998), Cameroon (1995 and 2001), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000), Chile (1991 and 1997), Colombia (1990 and 1996), Costa Rica (1995), Côte d’Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992 and 1999), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2000), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Gabon (2001), Ghana (1992 and 2001), Guinea (1999), Hong Kong (1990, 1994 and 1998), Hungary (1991 and 1998), Iceland (1994 and 2000), India (1993 and 1998), Indonesia (1991, 1994 and 1998), Israel (1994 and 1999), Jamaica (1998), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995,1998 and 2000), Kenya (1993 and 2000), Korea, Rep. of (1992, 1996 and 2000), Lesotho (1998), Macau (1994), Madagascar (2001), Malaysia (1993 and 1997), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995), Mexico (1993 and 1997), Morocco (1989 and 1996), New Zealand (1990 and 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 and 1998), Norway (1991, 1996 and 2000), Pakistan (1995), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994 and 2000), the Philippines (1993), Poland (1993), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992, 1996 and 2000), Slovak Republic (1995), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 and 1998), Sri Lanka(1995), Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 and 1994), Switzerland (1991, 1996 and 2000 (jointly with Liechtenstein), Tanzania (2000), Thailand (1991, 1995 and 1999), Togo (1999), Trinidad and Tobago (1998), Tunisia (1994), Turkey (1994 and 1998), the United States (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2001), Uganda (1995), Uruguay (1992 and 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).


We have had a successful sixth Review of the trade policies and practices of the United States. This Review has allowed Members to understand better the trade policies of the new U.S. Administration, and to voice their views on how these policies might affect them. It is by fostering such exchanges that this Mechanism contributes to the smoother working of the multilateral trading system, rooted in the belief that cooperation in the field of trade is a condition for the well-being of, and peaceful relations among nations. These I believe are important considerations at a time when global economic difficulties and recent terrorist attacks loom large in our minds.

Members have again recognized the United States' crucial role in the global economy and as well, the vital contribution it makes to the WTO. The size of the U.S. economy together with its generally liberal, pro-competitive trade policies have made the United States the world's largest single importing country, and a mainstay of world growth. Members were thus concerned about the slowdown in U.S. economic activity, and encouraged the authorities to continue with the measures they were taking to address this; they urged the United States to resist any protectionist measures that might arise. Members also expressed strong interest in the new Administration's trade policy objectives, both in the context of the WTO and with respect to preferential trade negotiations; several welcomed the strong U.S. support for a new round of multilateral trade negotiations. We have also noted that the Administration has placed enactment of Trade Promotion Authority at the top of its trade legislative agenda.

Members recognized that the United States has among the world's most open and transparent trade and investment regimes. Consonant with this, the average MFN U.S. tariff is relatively low. However, a number of Members pointed to the persistence of tariff peaks and escalation in some sectors of particular interest to developing countries, such as agriculture and textiles and clothing; peaks were also present for motor vehicles and ships. They also noted the use of specific and compound rates, which increase tariff protection in times of falling prices. The size, administration and fill rates of tariff quotas were also of concern. Some Members noted that unilateral U.S. trade preferences were in certain cases conditional on policy changes in the beneficiary countries.

The large and growing number of anti-dumping investigations was a point of considerable concern, and seen by many as potentially protectionist. It was noted that investigations without clear justifications result in harassment to exporters. Several Members expressed concern that the Byrd Amendment gives remedy that might not be appropriate under multilateral rules, and that it would lead to the proliferation of petitions for investigations.

The United States has made its public procurement subject to the disciplines of the GPA and was asked to submit the statistics required under the Agreement. Members also sought information on U.S. plans to relax remaining purchasing restrictions, particularly those in the Buy American Act and similar legislation. Concerns were expressed about the impact of set-asides, and about sub-federal purchasing measures.

Widespread interest was expressed in U.S. policies regarding standards and technical regulations, including mutual recognition agreements, the greater adoption of international standards, and the notification to WTO of sub-federal measures. Environment-related trade issues were also raised, including with respect to energy and fisheries subsidies and to trade in products issued from biotechnology.

On competition policy, the United States was encouraged to reduce the number of exemptions to its anti-trust laws, both at a Federal and State level. On intellectual property, the United States was urged to align its practices more closely with those of other Members, including by adopting the first-to-file system, eliminating trade restrictive aspects of the patent system, and streamlining the early publication system. Concern was expressed with respect to the WTO compatibility of Special 301 investigation provisions.

Sectoral policies and measures were the subject of many interventions. The United States is one of the world's largest producers and importers of food, but many Members noted that a range of measures assist the agri-food sector. Agriculture is the largest recipient of government outlays to the private sector, nearly tripling between 1997 and 2000 and with the increase exceeding the decline in agricultural output. Specific attention was given to U.S. sugar and dairy policy, as well as to the use of export credits and food aid. Many participants considered U.S. SPS requirements to be complex and lengthy.

In textiles and clothing, several Members pointed to the fact that although the United States was implementing the ATC as scheduled there had been a rather limited effective liberalization of trade. Some Members noted the expected effects of the recent Trade Development Act, including on third-country input suppliers. Members also noted the increased protection afforded to the steel industry through contingency measures, noting that these measures were not an alternative to the U.S. industry improving its competitiveness.

Members commended the United States for its generally liberal services sector. However, many noted that access to the U.S. maritime transport market continued to be severely restricted, and that in financial and professional services restrictions could arise at the state level. The extent of recent liberalization of U.S. air transport services under bilateral open-skies agreements was also raised.

Other matters raised in the Review included:

  • foreign investment regulations and remaining restrictions;

  • the extent of U.S. support for a multilateral investment agreement in the WTO;

  • certain aspects of customs registration, documentation, procedures and fees, which were seen as unnecessarily increasing costs for traders;

  • taxation issues, including of foreign professionals, electronic commerce and of exports;

  • measures, notably under the Section 301 family of laws designed, among other things, to open markets for U.S. exporters; and

  • trade restrictions for foreign policy reasons, in some cases involving extra-territoriality.

Members appreciated the oral and written responses and explanations provided by the U.S. delegation, and look forward to receiving answers on outstanding questions.