Every year, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) welcomes recommendations from U.S. businesses and trade groups on ways to address trade and investment barriers in foreign markets.
The National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE) is the U.S. government’s major annual report on the barriers to trade, investment, and services that American exporters and other businesses and their workers encounter around the world. The report is shared with the President and Congress.
U.S. chemicals manufacturers see the NTE as an important opportunity to submit recommendations to USTR on how we can continue to reduce barriers to chemicals trade – both tariff and non-tariff forms – and create economic and job growth here at home.
ACC recently submitted comments to USTR outlining our specific concerns (more on that below).
U.S. chemicals trade essential to innovation and growth
One of the reasons trade is so important to our sector is that countless businesses and consumers around the globe rely on chemistry to support the development of ground-breaking products that can help make our lives and our planet healthier, safer, and more sustainable.
The United States today is a net exporter of chemicals, with a trade surplus of $31 billion in 2018, thanks to the $201 billion in shale-gas related chemical investments that have been announced in the United States over the past decade.
As these investments give rise to increased production of chemicals and plastics, U.S. chemicals manufacturers are poised to generate $292 billion in new economic output and strengthen their position as one of the leading, low-cost suppliers of chemicals to the rest of the world.
According to one report, exports of specific chemicals directly linked to shale gas are projected to reach $123 billion by 2030, more than double the total in 2014. The U.S. trade surplus in industrial chemicals is also expected to grow to $61 billion by 2024.
Reducing trade barriers can help the U.S. chemicals sector grow and create jobs and ensure that the innovative products of chemistry are reaching the countries and businesses that need them the most.
ACC comments on 2020 National Trade Estimate Report
ACC’s comments this year for the 2020 National Trade Estimate report are focused on identifying foreign trade barriers, including tariffs and burdensome regulatory measures.
We recommend 21 measures to reduce trade barriers between the United States and eight critical trading partners, including the EU, China, Colombia, Republic of Korea, India, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.
Also, as a highly regulated industry with companies in various jurisdictions across the globe, we attach great importance to the full implementation by U.S. trading partners of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements concerning technical regulations and transparency.
Furthermore, while we respect the right of WTO Members to regulate, we promote regulatory cooperation as a tool for creating cost-saving efficiencies for governments, industries, and consumers, including through trade agreements such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
For the U.S. chemicals industry to succeed in the global marketplace, chemicals trade must be allowed to flow freely in and out of the United States. We recognize that addressing barriers to trade and investment can take time and effort.
If the U.S. government is able to address the barriers cited in our submission, it will promote growth in U.S. exports of chemicals and plastics, as well as the reduction of costs, creation of jobs, and promotion of innovation in the U.S. chemical industry. ACC and our members look forward to engaging with the U.S. government on addressing these barriers in 2020.