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Washington Outlook Archive
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

China And Others Hit On Non-Tariff Barriers

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

A Bush administration report to Congress dealing with non-tariff barriers to trade hits China particularly hard, and mentions clothing and textiles as problem areas. The National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers covers trade with 62 countries and deals with a wide variety of restrictive practices overseas countries use to protect their domestic markets from competition.

While citing progress in some areas, US Trade Representative General Counsel James Mendenhall said, “Our job is to break down trade barriers whether they are tariff or non-tariff barriers because it is essential to our continued economic growth and prosperity.” He added that the United States will push an “aggressive and proactive agenda” to open markets and reduce trade barriers.

While praising some progress made with a number of nations, the report says China has “ inadequate enforcement” of intellectual property rights, and a number of other problems with respect to a wide range of industrial and consumer goods including clothing and footwear.

Noting that the United States in 2005 had a $201 billion trade deficit with China, the report says China needs to do a better job of complying with its World Trade Organization commitments and obligations. This can be accomplished, the report says, when China learns to practice free market principles and eliminates mechanisms that allow government officials to intervene in the economy in ways that are inconsistent with market principles.

Specific problems cited in the report include use of quotas, discriminatory customs classifications, anti-dumping measures, lack of transparency, testing and standards administration, and licensing procedures. 

April 4, 2006