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Brian Pomper, executive director of the Alliance for Trade Enforcement, details the major foreign-trade barriers that will confront the incoming Biden Administration.
U.S. trading interests face numerous obstacles to accessing foreign markets, including restrictions on digital services, punitive taxation, and inadequate protection of intellectual property. That last category encompasses a range of concerns, including patents, copyrights and forced technology transfer. In addition, says Pomper, China is targeting some of the most innovative sectors of the U.S. economy, such as 5G, biotechnology and quantum computing, with the goal of leading the world in each. U.S. policymakers must respond by ensuring that their own technology producers “are able to compete and succeed worldwide.”
Trade barriers also exist in the form of foreign bureaucracies that impose onerous and duplicative rules on imported goods, or make demands for certain pharmaceutical items to be sold at depressed prices, Pomper says.
U.S. exporters have a number of places in which they can address concerns about unfair treatment by foreign governments. Agencies that can be of assistance include the U.S. Trade Representative and departments of Commerce, State, Treasury and Agriculture, depending on the nature of the product in question.
Also of possible value in select disputes are international bodies such as the World Trade Organization. Pomper speculates that the incoming Biden Administration will take a more multilateral approach to trade issues than did its predecessor. Such an approach might give the U.S. greater leverage over China, especially if it joins with allies to pressure the latter “to act in a more responsible manner.” But it remains to be seen whether membership in a broad coalition such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership would result in the formation of a basic set of trading rules that China would feel compelled to play by.
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