NFFS Signs Letter Supporting Fight Against Discriminatory Regulations

Posted By: Erin Russell Government Affairs, NFFS,

NFFS has joined the National Association of Manufacturers in support of their letter to Washington asking them to fight for a level playing field against discriminatory regulations around the world that harm manufacturers. NFFS signed this letter to stand with manufacturers and urge the administration to fight discriminatory global regulations and push for a proactive agenda on standards, conformity assessment and regulation that allows critical market access for manufacturers large and small.

Manufacturers depend on the ability to compete on a level playing field around the world, including real efforts to fight back against discriminatory foreign regulations, problematic standards and duplicative certification requirements that block access to U.S. exports and critical markets. But senior administration officials are sending disturbing signals, both directly and through their approaches on new trade frameworks like the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, that they have limited interest in fighting these barriers or engaging in regulatory cooperation needed to boost market access—leaving manufacturers vulnerable to foreign governments. We need the administration to support manufacturers large and small by fighting back, working proactively to advance a proactive global agenda on standards, conformity assessment and regulatory issues that can deliver real, direct benefits for manufacturers large and small, and intend to send a strong message through the joint letter copied below:

“On behalf of thousands of manufacturers, producers, sellers across the American economy and the men and women they employ and represent, we strongly support a robust, forward-looking trade policy that works for all Americans by opening markets, working bilaterally and multilaterally with trading partners to set and enforce ambitious trade standards and tackling unfair trade barriers. We write to urge you to adopt as a core component of the U.S. trade agenda a proactive approach on good regulatory practices and regulatory cooperation, as well as robust efforts to tackle technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary concerns that are harming U.S. businesses and workers.

“We welcome strong statements from the Biden administration, including in USTR’s annual trade policy agenda and in repeated remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai, of its commitment to the World Trade Organization as a “force for good”[3] and to reforms in areas such as “improving compliance with and enforcement of Members’ WTO commitments” to key commitments and agreements such as WTO’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement and its Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. Similarly, we support the administration’s commitment to “vigorously enforcing our trade agreements” and to shaping a trade policy that, among other areas, “ensures that regulations are science-based and predictable.

“It is critical that the administration’s work on new regional frameworks such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, the U.S. Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa and bilateral frameworks and dialogues with the European Union, United Kingdom, Taiwan, India and Kenya provide avenues to advance these priorities through ambitious, enforceable commitments. Such an approach would also support the administration’s efforts to ensure full, effective implementation of commitments in existing trade and economic agreements such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the U.S.-Brazil Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation, and additional free trade agreements with countries from Korea to Colombia. USTR’s inclusion of workstreams on good regulatory practices in several of its new economic arrangements, including its bilateral partnerships on Kenya and Taiwan and joint GRP declaration with trading partners in the Americas, are important steps to boost transparency and alignment with our trading partners and increase American competitiveness through market access.

“The U.S. must, however, go further to pursue strong language and commitments on global regulatory issues through all of these channels. We urge the administration to push back against non-tariff trade barriers and hold our trading partners to their commitments under existing FTAs as well as the WTO’s TBT and SPS agreements; pursue ambitious, WTO-plus commitments related to GRP, TBT and SPS issues; and strengthen government-to-government and public-private cooperation on standards, regulatory and conformity assessment issues. American businesses and workers count on USTR, Commerce and other agencies to address proactively discriminatory regulatory practices in foreign markets that are designed to boost foreign businesses and workers at our expense, blocking market access and undermining American jobs.

“Such efforts will help to strengthen alignment with like-minded trading partners in favor of smart, market-oriented strategies and promote the spread of U.S.-driven approaches on these issues, while also supporting U.S. efforts to promote WTO modernization, advance ambitious economic frameworks and enforce of existing trade commitments that lends credibility to the U.S. trade agenda. The U.S. has a strong track record of success in these areas, spreading and strengthening U.S. regulatory approaches through robust cooperation while also confronting discriminatory trade barriers through robust TBT/SPS enforcement – without undermining the ability of U.S. regulators to deliver smart, strong regulation here at home.

“Robust action in this space is important for all businesses and workers in the United States but are particularly important for small- and medium-sized companies, which benefit most from regulatory transparency and alignment to boost exports that support domestic growth and hiring, and also bear a disproportionate cost from discriminatory trade barriers due to the size of their businesses. This work is critical now more than ever before, as trade barriers proliferate and as our commercial rivals seek to spread their standards and conformity assessment practices at our expense in ways that unfairly distort markets, undermine American jobs and challenge American competitiveness.

“Given this important opportunity, we urge USTR and Commerce to pursue cooperative workstreams and WTO-plus commitments on GRP, TBT, SPS, regulatory cooperation and capacity-building into existing and new regional economic frameworks, bilateral economic arrangements, and existing and new free trade agreements, as well as the administration’s WTO reform engagement strategy. We also respectfully request that your agencies work closely with industry stakeholders to identify and address non-tariff regulatory barriers through robust enforcement of U.S. economic frameworks and trade agreements.

“We are committed to working with closely on this agenda and we welcome opportunities to work together with the administration to advance these priorities going forward.”