Understanding U.S. Trade Rules and Regulations

May 16, 2012

Update: On October 1, 2013, the International Trade Administration (ITA) underwent a consolidation from four business divisions into three more efficient and functionally aligned units. In the blog post below, references to ITA’s “Import Administration” division should be read as ITA’s “Enforcement and Compliance” division. Other than that name change, the information remains accurate.

Import Administration enforces the U.S. unfair trade laws (i.e., the anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws) and develops and implements other policies and programs aimed at countering foreign unfair trade practices.

Unfair foreign pricing and government subsidies distort the free flow of goods and adversely affect American business in the global marketplace. When that happens, the International Trade Administration can take enforcement actions. ITA’s Import Administration is the agency’s lead unit on enforcing trade laws and agreements to prevent unfairly traded imports and to safeguard jobs and the competitive strength of American industry.

Following U.S. law, regulation, and consistent with international trade rules, the Department of Commerce has the authority to conduct investigations of the alleged subsidization or dumping of foreign products sold in the United States.

If a U.S. industry believes that it is being injured by dumped or subsidized imports, it may request the imposition of antidumping or countervailing duties by filing a petition with both the Department of Commerce and the United States International Trade Commission (ITC).

If Commerce determines that a petition satisfies all requirements under the law to initiate an investigation, the agency will publish a Notice of Initiation in the Federal Register. The Notice of Initiation will lay out a general history of the proceeding, including dates of official filings as well as the scope of the investigation, explain how Commerce went about making a determination of industry support, and details how the petitioners went about estimating the existence of dumping or subsidization.

The ITC determines whether the domestic industry is suffering material injury (or the threat thereof) as a result of the imports under investigation. In so doing, the ITC considers all relevant economic factors, including the domestic industry’s output, sales, market share, employment, and profits.

If both Commerce and the ITC make affirmative findings of dumping and/or subsidization and injury, Commerce instructs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assess duties against imports of that product into the United States. The duties are normally assessed as a percentage of the value of the imports and are equivalent to the dumping and subsidy margins.

Commerce conducts its investigations in accordance with statutorily mandated deadlines and in an open and transparent manner with full opportunity for interested parties to provide relevant information and defend their interests.  These investigations proceed on the basis of an administrative record on which all information and arguments relevant to the decisions are placed.  Preliminary and final determinations are made on the basis of this record, reflecting the parties’ responses to Commerce questionnaires, the on-site verification of such responses in the foreign country, case briefs and arguments made by the parties and, where requested, public hearings.  The investigation results are also subject to probing domestic judicial review and must be consistent with WTO rules.

Visit Import Administration for more information on Department of Commerce’s investigation procedures.

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