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  • Q&A: How USDEC Export Guide Stays Up-to-Date

    By USDEC Staff October 2, 2014

    Sandra_3_RTThe only comprehensive trade reference for U.S. dairy exporters.

    Sandra Benson is USDEC’s director, market access and regulatory affairs. In this Q&A, Benson answers questions about how the USDEC Export Guide, the only comprehensive trade reference for U.S. dairy exporters, is frequently updated.

    Q: Every year you make hundreds of updates to the USDEC Export Guide, the only comprehensive trade reference for U.S. dairy exporters, due to changes in tariffs, certifications, compositional require­ments and product standards for U.S. dairy exports. How do such changes come about?

    SB: In any number of ways. Most countries publish an annual tariff schedule, but they also may make mid-year changes to tariffs or quotas as the economic situation warrants. For example, a country might raise tariffs if imports reach a safeguard trigger level.

    Countries also regularly revise compositional requirements, approved food additives and labeling requirements. There are many drivers for change. For example, Central America is issuing new harmonized legislation as a trade bloc that supersedes domestic regulations. Other countries periodically review their national standards and might make revisions to harmonize with changes to inter­national standards. Labeling requirements may change as domestic legislators see a need to alter them for things like new nutritional or allergen labeling.

    22836823_sQ: What types of changes are most common? Are they typically minor revisions or major overhauls?

    SB: Minor revisions occur more often than major ones because countries usually modify one or two require­ments rather than all of them at once. A minor revision may be a country starting to require specific information on a commercial document, such as the commercial invoice. Since exporters create this document, making the change is usually relatively simple.

    A major change might involve the implementation of a U.S. free trade agreement. The United States would receive preferential tariffs, and in many cases, duty-free quotas for numerous goods, which would require a com­plete overhaul of Volume 1 of the USDEC Export Guide.

    Q: Are there restrictions or controls that limit how much a nation can revise tariffs and certification regulations?

    SB: Tariffs and quotas are somewhat restricted. WTO members are not supposed to charge more than their maximum bound tariff rate (unless they reserved the right to implement a safeguard) or offer a quota smaller than their minimum bound quota as per their WTO commitments.

    Import requirements and compositional standards may change at any time, and there are no limits as to how often they may change.

    Q: How do you monitor and track 90 countries for changes?

    SB: USDEC’s overseas offices are actively engaged in monitoring proposed and final government regulations for all the countries in their purviews. They also talk with local USDA staff and importers to stay current on upcoming regulatory changes. USDEC Arlington staff performs similar monitoring for all other countries.

    We update the Export Guide in real-time to provide the most accurate information to members, and we highlight all new information in yellow to draw attention to the changes.

    Q: In the years ahead, do you foresee more or fewer such changes?

    SB: It’s tough to say. Studies indicate trade barriers rise during difficult economic times to rein in imports and support domestic industries. However, during pros­perous times, these barriers tend to fall or enforcement becomes lax. Whether we see greater or fewer export documentation changes, one thing is certain: The rules are forever shifting.

    (This article first appeared in the September 2014 edition of Export Profile.)

    Image copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

    The U.S. Dairy Export Council is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff that builds on collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to build global demand for U.S. dairy products.    



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