USTR: Telecom Market Access Barriers Remain In Asia And Europe

By John S. McClenahen Although recent free-trade agreements promise to open foreign markets for U.S. providers of telecommunications products and services, barriers remain -- primarily in Asia and Europe, says the White House office of Robert B. Zoellick, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Its most recent Section 1377 review of access to foreign markets, released April 7, reveals three key barriers: proposed Chinese and South Korea exclusionary standards for telecommunications equipment and services; high interconnection rates for mobile and wireline networks in Europe and Asia; and restrictions on wholesale transmission capacity in Germany, India, Singapore and Switzerland. "In addition, at least two countries -- Mexico and South Africa -- have been slow in implementing their commitment to permit U.S. suppliers to resell basic telecommunications services in their markets," says Zoellicks office. It expects to use negotiations, consultations, and, "where warranted, litigation" to eliminate these foreign market access barriers. The size of the global telecommunications equipment and services market is estimated to be $1.3 trillion.

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