Every year the U.S. Trade Representative's office (USTR) inventories foreign trade barriers to U.S. goods and services. And while this year's report cites an agreement with China that allows U.S. semiconductor makers to maintain and expand their $2 billion export business to the People's Republic among recent successes, it also criticizes China for "epidemic levels of counterfeiting and piracy" that "cause serious harm to U.S. businesses in virtually every sector of the economy."
The report, released March 30, also criticizes Japan's failure to re-open its market to U.S. beef and beef products and Mexico's imposition of a 20% tax on beverages and syrups made with sweeteners other than cane sugar. Japan banned the importation of U.S. beef following the late-2003 discovery of a single case of "mad cow" disease in the U.S. in an imported animal. The U.S. has taken the Mexican beverage tax issue to the World Trade Organization in an effort to resolve bilateral differences.