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:: What the USITC IS... and ISN'T

The USITC is an independent, nonpartisan, quasi-judicial federal agency. Established by Congress in 1916 as the U.S. Tariff Commission (the Trade Act of 1974 changed its name to the U.S. International Trade Commission), the agency has broad investigative powers on matters of trade. The USITC is a national resource where trade data are gathered and analyzed. The data are provided to the President and Congress as part of the information on which U.S. trade policy is based.

USITC activities include:

  • determining whether U.S. industries are materially injured by reason of imports that benefit from pricing at less than fair value or from subsidization;
  • directing actions, subject to Presidential disapproval, against unfair practices in import trade, such as patent, trademark, or copyright infringement;
  • making recommendations to the President regarding relief for industries seriously injured by increasing imports;
  • advising the President whether agricultural imports interfere with price-support programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • conducting studies on trade and tariff issues and monitoring import levels; and,
  • participating in the development of uniform statistical data on imports, exports, and domestic production and in the establishment of an international harmonized commodity code.

The USITC is NOT a policymaking body. It is NOT a court of law. It does NOT negotiate trade agreements.

What the USITC Does:

The USITC performs a number of functions.

In countervailing duty and antidumping investigations, which involve either subsidies provided to foreign companies through government programs or the selling of foreign products in the United States at less than fair value, the USITC works in concert with the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Commerce Department determines whether the alleged subsidies or dumping are actually occurring and, if so, at what levels (called the subsidy or dumping "margin"). The USITC determines whether the U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of the dumped or subsidized imports. If the Commerce Department's final subsidy or dumping determination and the USITC's final injury determination are both affirmative, the Commerce Department issues an order to the U.S. Customs Service to impose duties.

The USITC also assesses whether U.S. industries are being seriously injured by fairly traded imports and can recommend to the President that relief be provided to those industries to facilitate positive adjustment to import competition. Relief could take the form of increased tariffs or quotas on imports and/or adjustment assistance for the domestic industry.

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USITC Services

Public Information: The Office of External Relations is the USITC's primary liaison with the public, the news media, Congress and executive branch agencies, State and local agencies, as well as foreign governments and international organizations. The agency's Trade Remedy Assistance Office is also a component of the Office of External Relations.

External Relations issues all USITC news releases, responds to inquiries, and produces a variety of brochures, pamphlets, Internet content, and other materials to enhance public understanding of the ITC, its mission, and its role in U.S. international trade matters.

The Trade Remedy Assistance Office assists the public and small businesses seeking benefits or relief under U.S. trade laws. The office offers general information concerning remedies and benefits available under the trade laws of the United States and provides technical and legal assistance and advice to small businesses seeking those remedies and benefits.

The National Library of International Trade and USITC Law Library : The USITC maintains extensive libraries specializing in international trade in the United States. The National Library of International Trade houses roughly 40,000 book and serial titles covering U.S. industry and international trade laws and practices as well as numerous CD-ROM and on-line information data bases. The library is located on the third floor of the USITC Building. It is open during agency hours.

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