Trade policies such as protectionist measures and government support of agricultural sectors affect the level of global trade. Bilateral, multilateral, and regional trade agreements to eliminate trade barriers among member countries have taken on greater significance amidst an evolving international trading environment. The United States is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has membership in trade agreements with a number of countries.
ERS Research on Trade Policy and WTO-related Issues
ERS analyzes data and information on trade policy and WTO topics and conducts economic research on regulations policies of major trading partners to provide U.S. negotiators and other stakeholders with an economic perspective on the complex issues confronting the WTO.
Key topics that have been covered by ERS reports are summarized below.
- Japan is one of the largest beef importers in the world and an important destination market for the United States. A recent ERS report examines how Japanese importers view U.S. beef vis-à-vis imports from Australia and other countries and how market access reform might affect Japanese beef imports from the United States (see Tariff Reforms and the Competitiveness of U.S. Beef in Japan , January 2016).
- Export restrictions could increase world prices for food commodities, thereby exacerbating food insecurity and poverty among the world’s poorest people. An ERS report has examined alternative policies to a conventional export tax that are less market distorting and welfare diminishing (see Alternative Policies to Agricultural Export Taxes That Are Less Market Distorting , June 2015).
- Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade have become among the most commonly cited barriers to agricultural trade. An ERS report found such measures to be significant impediments to agricultural trade in selected commodities between the United States and the European Union (see Estimating the Effects of Selected Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade on U.S.-EU Agricultural Trade , November 2015).
- The EU is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of beef, pork, and poultry, but EU tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) policies continue to limit imports of U.S. meats (see Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Tariff-Rate Quotas for U.S. Meat Exports to the European Union , December 2014).
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade and investment agreement among 12 countries—including the United States—in the Pacific Rim. This report assesses this partnership's potential impacts on the region's agriculture in 2025 (see Agriculture in the Trans-Pacific Partnership , October 2014).
- The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) between the United States and the European Union could address several barriers facing agricultural trade, including tariffs, TRQs, and NTMs (see Agriculture in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Tariffs, Tariff-Rate Quotas, and Non-Tariff Measures , November 2015).