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USITC Releases Report Concerning Trade-Related Barriers Affecting Exports of U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises to the United Kingdom

October 4, 2019
News Release 19-101
Inv. No. 332-569
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819
USITC Releases Report Concerning Trade-Related Barriers Affecting Exports of U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises to the United Kingdom

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today released a report that catalogs the trade-related barriers perceived to be affecting exports of U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the United Kingdom (UK).

The report, U.S. SME Exports: Trade-related Barriers Affecting Exports of U.S. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to the United Kingdom, was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). 

As requested, the USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, catalogued trade-related barriers that U.S. SMEs perceive as disproportionately affecting their exports to the UK, as compared to larger U.S. exporters to the UK.

The report focuses on barriers identified by SMEs that hinder their ability to export to the UK. The USITC collected primary qualitative information and data to analyze both tariff and nontariff measures that may affect U.S. SME exports to the UK.  The report includes suggestions from SMEs and relevant literature for actions that would help address some of the identified barriers and enhance the participation of U.S. SMEs in U.S.-UK trade.

Main Findings:

  • SMEs believe they are particularly affected by a number of specific crosscutting trade-related barriers imposed by a European Union (EU) or UK government law or policy; these include tariffs and taxes, customs procedures, intellectual property measures, and temporary entry provisions.  Further, SMEs noted various market-related barriers that they perceive as affecting their ability to export to the UK market, including logistical and finance-related issues, and difficulties in entering or participating in the UK market.

  • Standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures are most often cited by SMEs as limiting their exports to the UK.  The most frequently cited SME concern is that the UK often does not recognize the standards set by U.S. standards bodies, which forces many U.S. firms to seek dual U.S. and UK certifications before they can export their products.

  • SMEs producing manufactured goods reportedly face numerous regulatory measures related to standards and regulations, which include labeling, licensing, and certification.  U.S. agrifood SMEs also identified a variety of nontariff barriers that they face in the UK with respect to labeling requirements, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements, geographical indications and wine names, packaging rules, food safety requirements, and certifications.

  • There are limited trade-related barriers for U.S. service exports to the UK.  However, the largest hardships U.S. SMEs engaged in the professional services industry say they face are temporary entry provisions, and licensing and credential issues. SMEs that export computer services reportedly encounter issues related to data protection and privacy laws, cybersecurity, and customs requirements.

U.S. SME Exports: Trade-related Barriers Affecting Exports of U.S. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to the United Kingdom (Investigation No. 332-569, USITC Publication 4953, September 2019) is available on the USITC's website at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4953.pdf.

USITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs or 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 analyses on the subjects 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 requester.  General factfinding investigation reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.

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