Why Do Some Product Listings Say “TAA-Compliant”?

Products listed as TAA-compliant are more easily cleared for US government procurement. Learn what classifies a product as TAA-compliant, TAA-compliant countries, and Fortinet TAA compliance.

Perhaps you’ve come across the topic of Trade Agreements Act (TAA) compliance in your computing or networking device vendor’s documentation or website and would like to learn more about what this means. The following gives an overview of TAA compliance and why some product listings display this badge of assurance prominently.

What Is TAA Compliance?

In today’s highly globalized economies, access to equipment and goods is now, for the most part, democratized across online, reseller, and partner channels. While this makes things easier for buyers, resellers, and systems integrators, it can be challenging when marketing to a select group of buyers with more stringent criteria for hardware and software systems procurement. 

Among these chiefly are organizations that require TAA compliance to do business. US government entities are required to validate that any bidding contractors have their products or services substantially manufactured in adherence to the TAA’s criteria. 

Typically, vendors will have a dedicated page or section in relevant product documentation validating compliance. For example, SonicWall’s Federal page provides details regarding its products’ adherence to TAA’s requirements. Essentially, these criteria stipulate that solutions sold to the US government must undergo what they term “substantial transformation” in the US or a designated country. That is, they must have undergone fundamental processing or manufacturing (i.e., activities that add significant value to the end product) in one or more of the countries on the TAA-compliant list.

Importance of TAA Compliance

TAA was enacted in 1979 by the US Congress to ensure free trade and fair commerce across borders. In essence, the Act requires all government contractors and bidders to certify that their products meet the applicable criteria and standards. 

It’s important to note that companies not selling directly to the U.S. government should nevertheless take heed, as their partners and resellers may require them to be TAA-compliant as well.

Why Do Certain Products Come With TAA Certification?

Products marked as TAA-certified or compliant are guaranteed by the vendor to be manufactured in the US or TAA-designated countries. For example, Fortinet products have been validated for compliance with the TAA’s country-of-origin requirements. Contractors and suppliers intending to sell products through a General Services Administration (GSA) contract will need to verify independently that their own supply chain partners are also compliant. 

In cases where TAA certification is requested, firms will need to provide validation that all of their products, components, sourced parts, and subparts satisfy the following: 

  • Either they are made in the US or a TAA-designated country
  • Or substantially transformed in a TAA-compliant country as an end product

Clearly, purchasing a TAA-compliant product provides some level of assurance when it comes to product quality, security, and safety. Ensuring this trifecta as a global standard is no small feat. It requires substantial harmonization across nations to allow firms to compete in a fair, global marketplace. TAA compliance offers some assurances that the product in question has been manufactured accordingly.

Are US Products TAA-Compliant? 

As a founding signatory of the TAA, the US is among the countries that are on the TAA’s list. However, this does not automatically mean that all US manufacturers are also by default TAA-compliant. US manufacturers still must validate and certify that any parts or sub-parts are manufactured or substantially transformed in a TAA-compliant country.

Why Do Some Product Listings Say “TAA-Compliant”?

The US Office of Procurement, Acquisition and Logistics (OPAL) maintains an updated list of TAA-compliant countries for public use. As of this writing, the following countries are considered TAA-compliant:

1.   World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) Countries

WTO GPA member countries include Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (known in the World Trade Organization as “the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu (Chinese Taipei)”), Ukraine, and the UK.

2.   Free Trade Agreement Countries

Partner countries include Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Peru, and Singapore.

3.   Least Developed Countries

These include Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen, and Zambia.

4.   Caribbean Basin Countries

These countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saba, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Noncompliant Countries

Companies wishing to sell their products or solutions to the US government should be wary of the following list of non-TAA-compliant countries:

  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Malaysia
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Sri Lanka

Again, TAA compliance stipulates that a manufacturer or reseller’s final products sold through a GSA Schedule cannot be developed in one or more of these countries. 

Products that are listed as TAA-compliant are green-lit by the vendor for use when bidding for US government contracts. With this badge of TAA adherence in place, firms can be sure that their own products—and those they are using as part of a broader solution—are in compliance with the relevant federal regulations.

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