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Trade Remedies: Ensuring a Free and Fair International Trade System

May 12, 2021

Eric Anderson and Ava Jamerson are International Trade Specialists in the Enforcement & Compliance Office of Communications

At the core of President Biden’s Build Back Better initiative is economic recovery that drives wage growth and leads to better outcomes for all Americans. International trade is a key component this recovery, and in honor of World Trade Month, we’re taking a closer look at how the International Trade Administration (ITA) supports a fair, and rules-based system of trade that both defends and empowers American workers and manufacturers.  

Many people know about ITA’s efforts to promote exports overseas, but ITA is also home to the Enforcement and Compliance (E&C) Unit, which administers trade remedies on imported products that are designed to rebalance the international trading system in the face of unfair trade practices like dumping or unfair pricing.

E&C teams are charged with the critical responsibility to take action when unfair trade practices threaten American competitiveness. The strongest tool that we use to maintain healthy competition in international trade is enforcing U.S. trade remedy statutes, which authorize E&C to investigate and, if necessary, apply antidumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD). But what, exactly, are antidumping and countervailing duties, how do they work, and why are they essential to a balanced system of global trade?

Antidumping duties are imposed when a foreign company undervalues its product when selling in the American market; countervailing duties are enacted when foreign governments provide unfair subsidies to an industry, which can result in artificially low prices for imports. These unfair trade practices have the potential to damage the competing U.S. industry. Some industries may be large enough to weather the damages caused by undervalued imports, but small and medium sized businesses are often unable to do so and therefore need effective relief from unfairly traded goods. The U.S. currently has AD/CVD duties in effect on 597 products from around the world – 37 percent of them cover products imported from China, and it is estimated that in recent years, the United States collected approximately $2.3 billion as a result of AD/CVDs. These trade remedies stabilize the market and hold foreign governments responsible for conducting trade in a fair and equitable manner.

Our trade remedy actions are bolstered by the work done by E&C’s Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance team which works with foreign governments on behalf of American companies to remove technical barriers to trade, and the Foreign-Trade Zones program which provides companies with a range of benefits, including streamlined customs procedures, to keep their business in the United States.

As our economy begins to rebound from the devastation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, trade remedies are essential component of building back better. They defend American jobs, help level the playing field for American businesses and industries, and contribute to a fair and equitable international trading system. If you’d like to learn more about the AD/CVD duties, please visit ITA’s webpage on U.S. Antidumping and Countervailing Duties.