European Single Market:

Issues of Concern to U.S. Exporters

NSIAD-90-60: Published: Feb 13, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed how the European Community (EC) Single Internal Market Program (EC 1992) would affect market access for U.S. small- and medium-sized exporters, focusing on: (1) product standards, testing, and certification; (2) rules of origin; and (3) public procurement.

GAO found that: (1) although EC 1992 could provide substantial benefits to U.S. exporters, there were still some unresolved market access questions; (2) under EC 1992, U.S. exporters would legally have to meet only one standard and have products tested in one EC country to sell them throughout EC, instead of having their products tested and certified in each EC country; (3) U.S. industry had concerns about the way EC recently applied its rules of origin to various electronic and high technology products, since EC could use those requirements to promote or protect certain industrial sectors; (4) the U.S. government planned to negotiate for an internationally accepted definition of rules of origin in order to avoid actions that could force U.S. companies to build facilities in Europe to avoid rules-of-origin barriers; (5) EC sought to open its $630-billion public procurement market in sectors previously closed to non-EC suppliers; and (6) although opening this market would give U.S. exporters more sales opportunities, EC could apply its proposed bid requirements applicable to these sectors in a discriminatory manner not currently covered under international agreements.

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