Hit List of U.S. Laws

By McConagha, Megan | Multinational Monitor, October 1994 | Go to article overview

Hit List of U.S. Laws


McConagha, Megan, Multinational Monitor


THE EUROPEAN UNION, Japan and Canada issue annual reports listing U.S. laws and regulations they believe to be unfair barriers to trade. The named laws touch on an incredibly broad cross-section of governmental activity, from food safety protection to banking regulation to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act. A small sampling of laws on the European Union and Canada's hit lists illustrates the point:

* Inland Waterway Transportation: Major U.S. waterways (Mississippi-Missouri and Tennessee-Tombigbee river systems) are maintained by the federal government. There are no lockage fees or tolls, but barge operators pay fuel taxes targeted at new construction. Canada claims this system constitutes a subsidy to inland transportation.

* Anti-Drug Program: The Federal Aviation Administration requires all employees performing sensitive and security-related functions to undergo a drug test. The EU is opposed to the law because of its extraterritorial reach and claims it interferes with foreign employee relationships.

* Pesticide Inspection: Canada alleges that shipments of agricultural products are occasionally subject to long delays due to inspections at the U.S. border, particularly pesticide testing, and claims that these delays amount to an unfair trade barrier.

* Prohibited Pests: Federal law requires importers to guarantee the absence of pests including the pear leaf blister moth on apples and pears. The EU criticizes the United States for prohibiting pests that are not widespread in the United States because it is not a scientific approach.

* Prohibited Pathogens: Federal law prohibits the importation of fruits and vegetables of pathogen-free regions of an EU Member State adjacent to regions in which a given pathogen is known to occur. The EU claims this is an undue trade obstacle.

* Prohibited Meat: Federal law prohibits the importation of several uncooked meat products, to the chagrin of the EU.

* Continuous Inspection: Federal law allows the importation of egg products only under strict conditions, including continuous inspection of the production process. The EU claims periodic inspection would be adequate.

* Federal Aviation Regulation: Federal law requires all U.S aircraft maintenance anywhere in the world to be done by Federal Aviation Administration-certified foreign repair stations. EU claims it takes too long to get certified.

* Communications Act of 1934: The EU charges that the federal requirement that common carriers of broadcast waves seek authorization from the Federal Communications Commission to construct new lines, extend existing lines, acquire or operate new lines is an unfair trade practice.

* Marine Mammal Protection Act: Federal law limits the acceptance level of dolphin mortality in U.S. tuna fishing operations in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean and provides for sanctions against other countries that fail to apply similar standards. The EU and Canada charge this is a law with GATT-illegal extraterritorial effects.

* The Buy America Act of 1933 plus at least 13 other government procurement-related federal laws favor domestic over foreign suppliers of a good or service, thus making them vulnerable to GATT challenges. …

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