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   Issue 25, Winter 2016

One is Man Controlling Trade, 1942 statue by Michael Lantz, at Federal Trade

Effect of Trade Policies and Practices

U.S. trade policies and practices affect many aspects of U.S. foreign trade, from imports and exports to production. The following sections of this guide point to major sources of information on these impacts. In addition, information has been included on the effect of trade policies on specific industry sectors, including agriculture, telecommunications and financial services, the typical sectors on which World Trade Organization policy reviews occur.

BERA - Business & Economics Research Advisor - A Quarterly Guide to Business & Economics Topics

Issue 25: Winter 2016

Guide to Researching
U.S. Trade Policy

Table of Contents

Primary Comprehensive Documents on U.S. Trade Policy
Selected Elements of the U.S. Trade Policy
Participants in Trade Policy Development Process
Effect of Trade Policies and Practices
   Production and Trade
   Selected Industry Sectors
U.S. in the World Trade Organization
Research and Advocacy
Current News Sources
Selected Periodicals and Databases
LC Online Catalog Searches

Caption (image left):
"One is Man Controlling Trade," 1942 statue by Michael Lantz,
at Federal Trade Commission
Highsmith, Carol M., 1946-, photographer
LC Print and Photographs Division

U.S. Trade Policies and Practices Affecting Imports

Customs procedures and requirements:
Trade Facilitation Measures

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection has direct responsibility for enhancing U.S. economic competitiveness. By reducing costs for industry and enforcing trade laws against counterfeit, unsafe, and fraudulently entered goods, CBP is working to enable legitimate trade, contribute to American economic prosperity, and protect against risks to public health and safety."

Import prohibitions, restrictions, and licenses

Prohibited and Restricted Items

There are hundreds of regulations from 40 agencies which are administered by the Customs and Border Protection.

Import licensing

The product categories for which an import license is required are noted below along with the U.S. government agency that administers it.

Sanctions, Controls & Special Procedures

Sanctions Programs and Country Information. Dept. of Treasury

The United States has sanctions regarding a number of countries, regions and regimes and topics/issues, and individual people (i.e., specially designated nationals). The complete list is provided by the Resource of Center of the Treasury.

Trade Remedies and and Safeguard Measures

The U.S. Department of Commerce investigates if there is unfair trade in the form of dumping and subsidizing that result in a surge of imports that could cause a harm to the U.S. industry. The International Trade Commission (ITC) investigates whether injury has occurred and undertakes sunset reviews. As of May 11, 2017 the US had 303 Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duty orders in place against imports from 43 countries.

Enforcement and Compliance. International Trade Administration. Dept. of Commerce

Provides information on the services provided by the Enforcement and Compliance unit of ITC and reference materials on AD/CVD.

Import Injury. U.S. International Trade Commission

Provides reference materials and tools for researching cases of import injury.

Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) Requirements

A number of departments and agencies have responsibility regarding human, animal and plant life and health related to the potential import of pests, diseases, disease carrying organisms, disease causing organisms and the risks from additives, contaminants, toxins, disease causing organisms in food, beverages and feedstuff.

Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS). USDA

APHIS regulations cover food and agriculture, animal and animal products, organism and vectors, organisms and soil, plant and plant products.

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). USDA

FSIS is responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. FSIS also determines the compliance of other nations' food safety system equivalency with the United States.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA is charged with protecting consumers against impure, unsafe, and fraudulently labeled products other than the meat, poultry, and egg products regulated by FSIS. FDA is also responsible for the safety of drugs, medical devices, biologics, food additives, dietary supplements, animal feed and drugs, cosmetics, and radiation emitting devices.
Food additives
Dietary supplements

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA writes regulations implementing legislation passed by Congress. A SPS import related topic is pesticide residual levels.

US SPS Measures and the WTO

The US Enquiry Point is responsible for answering relevant questions in the area of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS).External Link
The contact is:
Agriculture South Building,
International Regulations and Standards Division,
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service,
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250
Telephone: +(1 202) 720 1301
Telefax: +(1 202) 720 0433
E-mail: [email protected]
[email protected]

WTO Dispute Settlement External Link

As of June 26, 2017 the United States has been the respondent (i.e. cases have been brought against the U.S.) in eight dispute cases at the World Trade Organization brought under the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement. The cases have been about fresh lemons (Argentina complained, WTO Dispute Settlement (DS) Case No. 448), animals (Argentina, DS 447), clove cigarettes (Indonesia, DS 406), poultry (China, DS 392), certain country of origin labeling (Mexico, DS 386; Canada DS 384), cattle, swine and grains (Canada, DS 144), poultry (EC, DS 100).

As of June 26, 2017 the United States has been the complainant in eleven cases brought against other nations about SPS measures: regarding agriculture products (India, DS 430), poultry (EC, DS 389), biotech products (EC, DS 291), apples (Japan, DS 245), live swine (Mexico, DS 203), agriculture products (Japan, DS 76), inspection of agriculture products (Korea, D 41), meat and meat products (EC, DS 26), salmonids (Australia, DS 21), shelf life (Korea, DS 5), testing and inspection of agriculture products (Korea, DS 3).

WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures External Link

In 2016, the United States submitted 148 notifications about SPS measures including addendum, many on pesticide residues. The US Notification Point is the same as its Enquire Point (see above.)

Technical Regulations and Standards

Standards Incorporated by Reference (SIBR)

The national standards body, the WTO Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) Enquiry and Notification authority, is the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). National policy is for government agencies to use "voluntary consensus standard". NIST maintains a database of voluntary consensus standards, along with government unique standards, private industry standards and international standards referred to in the Code of Federal Regulations.

National Standards Policy

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)
Current OIRA website is under development.
Archived OIRA website of the Obama administration

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a statutory part of the Office of Management and Budget, is the U.S. government's central authority for the review of Executive Branch regulations, approval of Government information collections, establishment of Government statistical practices, and coordination of federal privacy policy.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) External Link

ANSI is a private sector organization that oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses. ANSI also provides technical assistance to developing countries to meet their obligations under the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA's 'technical regulations' include rules regarding vehicle and engine emissions, asbestos, lead and hazardous waste.

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U.S. Trade Policies and Practices Affecting Exports

Export Procedures and Requirements
At the border, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible to administer laws and regulations.
Export Taxes, Charges & Levies
The U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 9) prohibits export taxes. There are fees associated with services performed e.g., inspection, certification of agriculture products.

Export Prohibitions, Restrictions & Licensing

The United States restricts exports for national security and foreign policy objectives. Many restrictions cover munitions. Product categories covered by restrictions include natural gas, electric power, fish and wildlife, dual use munitions and military items, nuclear material and equipment, nuclear technology, controlled substances and precursor chemicals, food, drugs, cosmetics, meal, poultry, eggs, high value agriculture products, agriculture risk products.

Export Restriction: Commerce Control List (CCL)
CCL is governed by the Export Administrative Regulations (EAR) Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulatins, Sections 730 to 774: 15 CFR 730-774

Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)
Department of State maintains the U.S. Munitions List (USML), as governed by the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR)

Export Control Reform (ECR) Initiative
"ECR is designed to enhance U.S. national security and strengthen the United States' ability to counter threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Export Support and Promotion: Structures

National Export Initiative (NEI)

President's Export Council (PEC)

National Export Initiative: NEXT

U.S. Trade and Development Agency

Export Finance, Insurance, and Guarantees

Export-Import Bank

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

General Accountability Office

The U.S. General Accountability Office reports on trade related issues such as trade policy (e.g., customs enforcement, e-cigarettes), trade promotion, trade data, etc.

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U.S. Trade Policies and Practices Affecting Production and Trade


Doing Business 2017 (World Bank) External Link [PDF format: 9.45 MB/356 pp.]

The United States is ranked 35th of 190 countries in the world with regards to the logistical process of exporting and importing goods. The domestic regulations for domestic firms 'trading across borders' cover the cost and time to provide documentary compliance, border compliance and domestic transport.


The US reported to the World Trade Organization subsidies in agriculture, energy and fuels, fisheries, lumber, medical, steel, non-fuel exploration, shipyards, watch and jewelry sectors. Information is available at the following url. Click on "Search Documents", and note "G/SCM/N/253/USA" in the "Document Symbol" box. Major legislation providing for other subsidies include the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act, Trade Adjustment Assistance, and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Competition Policy

Competition policy in the US is known as 'anti-trust' law. Major legislation includes: Sherman Act (1890; 15 U.S.C. 52-53), Clay, Clayton Act (1914; 29 U.S.C. 52-53), Trade Commission Act (1914), Antitrust Modernization Commission Act (2002).

U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division
Guidelines and Policy Statements

Antitrust Cooperation Agreements

The US has competition cooperation agreements or memorandum of understanding with the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, European Union, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Russia, as well as agreements within free trade agreements (i.e., Australia, Chile, Columbia, Korea, NAFTA, Peru, Singapore).

State trading, state-owned enterprises (SOE), government sponsored enterprises (GSE)

State Trading Enterprises. United States Trade Representative

The US reported to the WTO the following state owned enterprises (SOEs): Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), Isotope Production and Distribution Program Fund (IPD). GSEs identified are Federal National Mortgage Association (known as Fannie Mae), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (known as Freddie Mac), Federal Home Loan Bank System, and Farm Credit System.

Government procurement

Agreement on Government Procurement External Link

Providing preference to domestic suppliers of goods and services is considered by some a trade barrier. WTO rules exclude government procurement from application of these disciplines. There is a pluralateral Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), of which the United States is a member. In addition to federal government coverage, 37 US states have agreed to participate. The agreement covers 47 WTO members.

e-GPA Portal External Link

The US also includes government procurement provisions in its free trade agreements. The U.S. schedule of commitments to WTO GPA members is found at the e-GPA portal

Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)

Intellectual Property Rights

US Patent and Trademark Office

Registered Design

Trade Secret External Link

18 U.S. Code Chapter 90 - PROTECTION OF TRADE SECRETS External Link


National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center)

Intellectual Property. US Trade Representative

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U.S. Trade Policies and Practices Affecting Selected Industry Sectors


Trade Policy & World Trade Organization
Economic Research Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

"ERS analyzes data and information on trade policy and WTO topics and conducts economic research on regulations policies of major trading partners to provide U.S. negotiators and other stakeholders with an economic perspective on the complex issues confronting the WTO."

Agriculture Information Management System. WTO. External Link

Ag-IMS provides access to documents and records relevant under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.

WTO Documents Database External Link

Search the database for the relevant documents regarding U.S. agriculture commitments to WTO members using the document symbol presented in quotes. (The United States is a few years late in filing notifications, with data provided for marketing year 2012.)
  • "G/AG/N/USA/96" - MA1 market access notification regarding tariff and quota commitments for fiscal year 2013, dated 10 July, 2014
  • "G/AG/N/USA/94" - MA2 market access notification regarding imports under tariff quotas for FY 2012, dated 5 Feb. 2014.
  • "G/AG/N/USA/95" - MA5 market access notification regarding special safeguard actions taken for 2012, dated 5 February, 2014.
  • "G/AG/N/USA/99" - ES1 export subsidies notification regarding export subsidy commitments for 2011 and 2012, dated 30 October, 2014.
  • "G/AG/N/USA/93" - DS1 domestic support commitments for 2011, dated 15 December, 2013.
  • "G/AG/N/USA/91" - DS2 new domestic support commitments exempt from reduction, dated 24 October, 2012
  • "G/AG/N/USA/98" - NF1concerning the possible negative effects of the reform programme on least developed and net food importing developing countries for 2012 dated 27 October, 2014

Farm Bill. U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry

Current agriculture policy is based on the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly called the "Farm Bill."

Financial services

Share Data for the U.S. Offices of Foreign Banking Organizations
Federal Reserve Board

Provides data on U.S. offices of foreign banking organizations that are located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

WTO Documents Database External Link

Search the database for the relevant documents regarding U.S. commitments to WTO members using the document symbol presented in quotes.
"GATS/SC/90" - U.S. service sector commitments dated 1994 with the on financial services in "GATS/SC/90 Suppl. 3" dated 1998.


Telecommunications Commitments and Exemptions. WTO. External Link

Commitments annexed to the Fourth Protocol on Basic Telecommunications (from 1997 onwards)

Other Industry Sectors

For other sectors see GATS Schedule of Commitments "GATS/SC/90" searchable in the WTO documents database.External Link

U.S. Investment Regime

Bilateral Investment Treaties

"The U.S. bilateral investment treaty (BIT) program helps to protect private investment, to develop market-oriented policies in partner countries, and to promote U.S. exports."

Trade and Investment Framework Agreements

"Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) provide strategic frameworks and principles for dialogue on trade and investment issues between the United States and the other parties to the TIFA."

Last updated: 08/01/2017

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