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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.

The USITC makes determinations in investigations involving unfair practices in import trade, mainly involving allegations of infringement of U.S. patents and trademarks by imported goods. If it finds a violation of the law, the USITC may order the exclusion of the imported product from the United States.

Through its research program, the USITC conducts objective studies on many international trade matters. These are generally requested by the President, the Senate Committee on Finance, or the House Committee on Ways and Means. The USITC has an extensive library of international trade resources called the National Library of International Trade, which is open to the public during agency hours.

The USITC frequently holds hearings as part of its investigations and studies; the hearings are generally open to the public and the media.

The USITC is responsible for continually reviewing the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), a list of all the specific items that are imported into and exported from the United States, and for recommending modifications to the HTS that it considers necessary or appropriate.