International Trade

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Current Trade Statistics
Federal Agencies with International Trade Responsibilities
Nonpartisan Reports on Trade

Current Trade Statistics

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Federal Agencies with International Trade Responsibilities

Link to  Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

  • USTR is part of the Executive Office of the President.  Through an interagency structure, USTR coordinates trade policy, resolves disagreements, and frames issues for presidential decision.
  • The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries.
  • The head of USTR is the U.S. Trade Representative, a Cabinet member who serves as the president’s principal trade advisor, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade issues.
  • Link to USTR Fact Sheets

Link to  U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)

  • USTDA is an independent federal agency that helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies. 
  • Mission is to promote U.S. exports to advance economic growth in developing and middle-income countries.
  • Because of the flexibility of USTDA’s program, its partners are able to obtain financing from a variety of sources: U.S. government finance institutions, commercial banks, private equity funds, multilateral institutions and local development banks, among others.
  • The Agency connects foreign project sponsors with U.S. manufacturers and service providers in order to open new export markets and identify commercial opportunities for U.S. companies through reverse trade missions, conferences, and workshops.  Reverse trade missions bring foreign decision-makers to the United States to observe the design, manufacture and operation of U.S. products and services that can help them achieve their development goals. Worldwide conferences and workshops are sector- and project-specific events designed to showcase U.S. goods and services to foreign decision-makers.
  • USTDA is unique among federal agencies in that it is mandated to engage the U.S. private sector in development projects at the critical early stages when the projects’ technology options and requirements are being defined.  By highlighting opportunities for the use of U.S. expertise and technology when they can effectively be incorporated into project preparation, the Agency increases opportunities for the use of U.S. exports in project implementation.
  • USTDA provides grants directly to overseas sponsors who, in turn, select U.S. companies to perform Agency-funded project preparation activities. An overseas sponsor is a local entity, public or private, with the decision-making authority and ability to implement a project. Key project preparation activities include:
    • Feasibility Studies and Pilot Projects
    • Technical assistance
    • Training Programs

Link to  USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) 

  • Trade PolicyFAS expands and maintains access to foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products by removing trade barriers and enforcing U.S. rights under existing trade agreements. 
  • Market Development and Export Assistance:  FAS partners with 75 cooperator groups representing a cross-section of the U.S. food and agricultural industry and manages a toolkit of market development programs to help U.S. exporters develop and maintain markets for hundreds of products. FAS also supports U.S. agricultural exporters through export credit guarantee programs and other types of assistance.
  • Data and Analysis: FAS analysts provide objective intelligence on foreign market conditions, prepare production forecasts, assess export opportunities, and track changes in policies affecting U.S. agricul­tural exports and imports.
  • Food SecurityFAS leads USDA’s efforts to help developing countries improve their agricultural systems and build their trade capacity. FAS also partners with the U.S. Agency for International Development to administer U.S. food aid programs, helping people in need around the world. FAS’s non-emergency food aid programs help meet recipients’ nutritional needs and also support agricultural development and education.

Link to  Export-Import Bank (EXIM)

  • The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is an independent, self-sustaining Executive Branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.
  • When private sector lenders are unable or unwilling to provide financing, EXIM fills in the gap for American businesses by equipping them with the financing tools necessary to compete for global sales. In doing so, the Bank levels the playing field for U.S. goods and services going up against foreign competition in overseas markets, so that American companies can create more good-paying American jobs.
  • Because it is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, EXIM assumes credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept.
  • The Bank’s charter requires that all transactions it authorizes demonstrate a reasonable assurance of repayment; the Bank consistently maintains a low default rate, and closely monitors credit and other risks in its portfolio.

Link to  Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)

  • The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets.
  • Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities.
  • OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.
  • Link to Active OPIC projects.

Link to  Small Business Administration Office of International Trade (OIT)

  • The Office of International Trade’s mission is to enhance the ability of small businesses to compete in the global marketplace.

Link to  Commerce Dept. International Trade Administration (ITA)

  • ITA, located in the U.S. Department of Commerce, is organized into three distinct business units under the direction of the Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade (organizational chart):
    • The Global Markets unit, under the direction of the Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, combines ITA’s country and regional experts, overseas and domestic field staff, and specific trade promotion programs to provide U.S. firms with the full suite of country-specific export promotion services and market access advocacy, while promoting the United States as an investment destination.
    • The Industry and Analysis (I&A) unit, under the direction of the Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis, brings together ITA’s industry, trade, and economic experts to advance the competitiveness of U.S. industries through the development and execution of international trade and investment policies and promotion strategies. I&A leverages ITA’s relationships with manufacturing and services industries to increase U.S. exports.
    • The Enforcement and Compliance unit, under the direction of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, enhances ITA’s responsibilities to enforce U.S. trade laws and ensure compliance with trade agreements negotiated on behalf of U.S. industry.

Link to  Treasury Dept. Office of International Affairs (OIA)

  • The Treasury Department works to promote open trade and investment policies internationally and for the United States through the Office of Trade Finance and Investment Negotiations and the Office of International Trade.  Areas of work include:
    • participation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a 35-member organization of many of the world’s most advanced market economies (but also emerging countries like Mexico, Chile and Turkey) aimed at collecting and analyzing information on a broad range of topics to help governments foster prosperity and fight poverty through economic growth and financial stability;
    • participation in the International Working Group on Export Credits (IWG) created by the U.S. and China in 2012 to negotiate new global guidelines on export financing subsidies;
    • negotiation of trade and investment agreements; and
    • participation in the World Trade Organization, which operates a global system of trade rules, acts as a forum for negotiating trade agreements, settles trade disputes between its members, and supports the needs of developing countries.

Link to  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Link to  Commerce Dept. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)

  • The BIS mission is to advance U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership.

Link to  State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)

  • The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, in accordance with the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations is charged with controlling the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List (USML).

Link to  U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC)

  • Commission makes determinations in proceedings involving imports claimed to injure a domestic industry or violate U.S. intellectual property rights;
  • Provides independent tariff, trade and competitiveness-related analysis and in­formation; and
  • Maintains the U.S. tariff schedule.

Link to U.S. Court of International Trade

  • The United States Court of International Trade, previously the U.S. Customs Court, has nationwide jurisdiction over civil actions arising out of the customs and international trade laws of the United States.

Link to  Labor Department: Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) — a federal program administered jointly by the Dept. of Labor Employment and Training Administration and state agencies — provides federal assistance to workers who have involuntarily lost their jobs due to foreign competition. It was last reauthorized by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015.
  • To establish eligibility for TAA benefits, a group of trade-affected workers (or their representative) must petition the Department of Labor (DOL) and a DOL investigation must verify the role of foreign trade in the workers’ job losses. Once a petition is certified by DOL, covered workers may apply for individual benefits. Individual benefits are funded by the federal government and administered by state agencies through their workforce systems and unemployment insurance systems.
  • Benefits available to individual workers include:
    • Training and reemployment services;
    • a Trade Readjustment Allowance weekly income support payment for TAA-certified workers who have exhausted their unemployment compensation (UC) and who are enrolled in an eligible training program;
    • Wage insurance which provides a cash payment equal to 50% of the difference between the worker’s new wage and previous wage, up to a two-year maximum of $10,000; and
    • a Health Coverage Tax Credit equal to 72.5% of qualified health insurance premiums.
  • Appropriations for the program in FY2016 were $861 million.
  • Background:  CRS: Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers

Link to  U.S. Census Bureau:  International Trade Data

More Background on Trade Agencies:   

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Nonpartisan Reports on Trade

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