U.S. trade practices raise concern in WTO trade policy review

2012-12-21 01:16:11 GMT2012-12-21 09:16:11(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

The World Trade Organization's (WTO) 11th trade policy review (TPR) of the United States concluded here Thursday, with some of the country's trade policies causing concern among its trade partners.

"The United States maintains a very open trade regime and should be commended for this as well as for its resistance to introduce protectionist measures, even during difficult times," said Eduardo Munoz Gomez, chairman of the Trade Policy Review Body, in his concluding remarks.

The United States received more than 1,500 questions from 36 members in this TPR concerning its trade policies and practices.

During the two-day review, members, either through the question and answer process or through their statements, hoped the United States can take action on the following issues.

As the world's biggest exporter of agricultural products with a new Farm Bill expected next year, the United States was encouraged to review many agricultural policies including domestic support measures, food aid, and export programs.

Concerns were raised about the potential increase in trade transaction costs that could result from the 100-percent scanning requirement, and further information on this and on risk analysis was requested.

The U.S. rules of origin marking were described by some delegations as cumbersome, out-dated and seen as a burden for traders.

In addition, members remained concerned about its lack of enough use of international standards in TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) and SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) measures.

Gomez said although the average tariff in the United States is relatively low, tariff peaks remain a concern in some sectors, and affect products of interest to developing countries, such as leather, footwear, textiles, and some agriculture products.

Some members also questioned U.S. priorities with respect to bilateral and regional versus multilateral trade liberalization in the past two years.

Yi Xiaozhun, Permanent Representative of China to the WTO, on Tuesday urged the United States to reprioritize the multilateral system and reengage in the Doha negotiations "in a more proactive approach."

Trade policy reviews are an exercise, mandated in WTO agreements, in which members' trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals. Significant developments that may have an impact on the global trading system are also monitored.

All WTO members are subject to review, with the frequency of review depending on the country's trade volume. The United States, China, the European Union and Japan are reviewed every two years.

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