work to support (1) implementation of the multilateral standards agreements under the WTO; (2) innovative new efforts to link standards and U.S. export promotion services; (3) policies and programs to ensure systems surveillance in areas of growing significance to trade, especially environmental management systems standards and national conformity assessment regimes; and (4) possible aggressive, unilateral use of U.S. law to counteract unfair foreign trade practices in standards.
One of the most significant advances in the Uruguay Round, for example, was the expansion in the number of countries brought under disciplines on standards first negotiated in the Tokyo Round of the GATT. Many U.S. trading partners, especially the developing nations of Asia and Latin America, will require assistance in constructing modern standards and conformity assessment regimes. By providing this assistance, the United States has an opportunity to support successful implementation of the GATT, as well as U.S. global export expansion and economic progress.
In the context of these developments, issues concerning standards and conformity assessment have moved to a central position in future U.S. foreign economic policy. This chapter outlines the link among product and process standards, global trade, and U.S. economic interests. As discussed in this chapter, our national trade policy objectives are served through the removal of technical trade barriers in key export markets; participation in international, mutual recognition of conformity assessment systems; and expanded efforts at export promotion through cooperation and assistance to standards bodies in existing and emerging U.S. export markets.
Trade and the expansion of global exports are directly linked to U.S. economic vitality and future standards of living. Exports provide for domestic economic growth, increased labor productivity, and creation of jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors that pay wages well above the national average.1 Future U.S. economic success, as a result of these factors, centers to an increasing extent on removing barriers to international trade, as well as creating innovative export promotion programs to help expand markets for U.S. goods and services overseas.
There are many indicators of the importance of exports to the domestic economy. U.S. exports have grown at a rapid rate as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the past decade. Goods and services exports rose from 7.5 percent of GDP in 1986 to approximately 13 percent in 1993.2 Merchandise