Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator LLC of Florida

The Department of Commerce’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program led by the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Market Access and Compliance (MAC) Unit, recently helped Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator LLC (PVE), a small-to-medium size enterprise (SME) headquartered in Miami, Florida, overcome a foreign trade barrier that threatened to exclude it from the Japanese market.

Why it Matters
If Japan had enacted its proposed new safety standard that was based on design rather than performance requirements, PVE would have lost $5 million in exports to Japan. Japan’s decision to instead rely on a performance-based standard in keeping with its trade agreements opened doors to the Japanese construction market for other American businesses.

PVE's Elevator
Courtesy of Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators, LLC  

The Problem
Japan proposed requiring all residential elevator cabins to be manufactured using “sliding” doors. This new standard would exclude PVE from the Japanese market because its elevators use “swinging” doors. The proposed standard conflicted with Japan’s World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations to specify technical standards in terms of performance, rather than design characteristics, when appropriate.

The Solution
A team of ITA specialists raised the issue to Japanese government officials and at the WTO, indicating that a specification based on performance rather than design would not keep Japan from meeting its safety goals. As a result of the team’s actions, Japan revised the technical standard, permitting the use of swinging doors on residential elevators and averting the potential restriction of $5 million in PVE’s exports to Japan. PVE’s representatives thanked the ITA for its “tremendous support.” The revised technical standard creates opportunities in Japan for other U.S. exporters of elevators with similar technology.

Working closely with U.S. companies, ITA creates, expands, and defends market access for U.S. goods and services overseas through the Trade Agreements Compliance Program. “We promote policy that develops a more favorable business climate for U.S. companies in global markets; we employ commercial diplomacy to resolve trade barriers; and we leverage our bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to ensure our trading partners live up to their commitments so that our businesses can compete on a level playing- field.” - Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance, Michael C. Camuñez.