E N F O R C E M E N T   AND   C O M P L I A N C E

Commerce Opens Doors to U.S. Elevators in Japan

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) 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
Photo courtesy 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.