U.S. Trade Policy & Law

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  • 0:01 U.S. Trade Policy
  • 0:31 ITA and ITC
  • 2:25 U.S. Trade Laws
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
American industries depend upon the government for protection against imports and to promote domestic exports. In this lesson, you will be exposed to an overview of U.S. trade policy and law.

U.S. Trade Policy

Many American companies depend upon the United States government to protect their industries against foreign competition. In this lesson, you'll receive an overview of U.S. trade policy and law. U.S. trade policy handles the laws regarding the exchange of goods and services with other nations. Congress has the ability to regulate trade, set tariffs and protect domestic business. In addition, they have created an environment, which makes it easier for foreign markets to accept U.S. imports.


The Executive Branch, which includes the President, the Department of Treasury, State, and Commerce, and regulatory agencies, has an enormous impact on trade. For example, The Department of Commerce has the International Trade Administration (ITA) (www.trade.gov) and the International Trade Commission (ITC). Both provide support to the administration of U.S. trade law. Their objectives are many, but the common thread is the protection of domestic business.

First off, both the ITA and ITC help develop trade policy by creating a set of regulations that determine the international flow of products with special attention focused on restricting imports and protecting domestic business.

Next, they will participate in Congressional testimony in regards to the protection of domestic business. A recent example had the CEO of a U.S. steel company, in conjunction with the ITC, testifying to Congress over international business concerns. The CEO and ITC were concerned that India, Oman, and Vietnam were dumping cheap welded pipes into the U.S. market, which was causing huge economic problems to the American steel industry. The ITA and ITC also lobby for policy objectives, such as increased protection for international intellectual copyright infringement.

Lastly, both develop relationships with businesses from other countries in order to help domestic business. For example, the International Trade Commission (ITC) has worked to improve business relationships with Africa through trade preference programs and commercial agreements. Africa has seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, and U.S. businesses could profit considerably by entering these markets.

In addition, there are trade laws that also protect and assist U.S. industries.

U.S. Trade Laws

The Trade Act of 1974 is the grandfather of all of the trade laws. This law helped the United States expand international business and decrease trade disputes. The act reduced trade barriers, improved trading relationships with developing countries and battled against unfair trading business situations. The biggest success of the law was that it protected American industries that were having difficult economic problems by limiting imports. The automobile and steel industries are two examples that benefited from import relief through the Trade Act of 1974. Later, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act supplied relief to employees injured by imports by providing job retraining for different work.

There are many other laws that have passed which gave the President and Congress additional powers to protect domestic industries. For example, the Trade Agreement Act of 1979 was passed for an upcoming GATT trade negotiation and provided procedures for fast tracking, or the creation of trade agreements by the President of the United States.

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