March 28, 2014
News Release 14-027
Inv. No. 332-541
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819
MULTIPLE TRADE BARRIERS LIMIT U.S. SMES' EU EXPORT SUCCESS, USITC FINDS
EU Standards and Regulations and Industry-Specific Barriers Frequently Cited
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Trade Barriers that U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Perceive as Affecting Exports to the
European Union (Investigation No. 332-541, USITC Publication 4455, February 2014), is
available on the USITC's Internet site at http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4455.pdf. A
CD-ROM of the report may be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling
202-205-2000, or contacting the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500
E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may also be faxed to 202-205-2104.
USITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs and trade
and are generally conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the House Committee
on Ways and Means, or the Senate Committee on Finance. The resulting reports convey the
Commission's objective findings and independent analysis on the subject investigated. The
Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding
reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the USITC submits its findings and analyses to
the requestor. General factfinding investigations reports are subsequently released to the public,
unless they are classified by the requestor for national security reasons.
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