The International Trade Administration, the Bureau of Industry and Security, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative would get additional resources to conduct trade enforcement operations in a fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill approved June 14 by the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Highlights of the bill’s funding provisions for trade-related agencies include the following.
ITA. The bill funds the ITA at $499 million, $4 million above the FY 2018 enacted level and $47.9 million over the administration’s budget request. It provides an additional $4 million for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance and encourages the ITA to (a) expeditiously reduce backlogs in antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, (b) provide direct assistance to industries in support of self-initiated cases and other AD/CV enforcement, and (c) coordinate with appropriate agencies (e.g., U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the International Trade Commission, and the departments of Justice and State) to report on legislative remedies that may be needed to support U.S. government-wide efforts to combat trade fraud and evasion.
The bill rejects proposed cuts to the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service and directs the ITA to (a) fund this agency at the highest possible level in FY 2019, (b) not close any US&FCS offices in FY 2019 without committee approval, (c) report on any instances of US&FCS staff diverted from working on trade promotion in the last year to other priorities, and (d) submit a breakdown of global markets funding for the US&FCS and other activities. The committee adds that it will not approve requests to close any Export Assistance Centers that are the only one in a given state.
BIS. The bill appropriates $121.6 million to BIS, which is $8.1 million above the FY 2018 enacted level and just under $1 million above the administration’s budget request.
The committee directs BIS to continue its exporter outreach program to educate companies on their obligations related to export controls. In this effort, BIS should continue targeting small and medium-sized businesses and working with state and local trade and export associations, in addition to national industry groups, to ensure that SMEs have clear, easy-to-understand information about complying with export control regulations.
USTR. The bill provides $57.6 million for USTR, unchanged from FY 2018 but $5.4 million below what the administration requested. This amount includes up to $15 million derived from the Trade Enforcement Trust Fund for enforcement activities authorized by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The committee requests that USTR break down how these funds are spent, including a detailed list of the enforcement actions taken by the Trust Fund since 2015, such as the initiation of consultations with trading partners, the filing of World Trade Organization cases, and the commencement of dispute settlement proceedings under free trade agreements.
The committee also urges USTR to (a) fully evaluate and consider the impact foreign tariffs and other retaliatory actions have on U.S. farmers and ranchers when negotiating with trade partners and making trade-related decisions, (b) consider the disproportionate impact that the current disparity in de minimis thresholds has on small businesses, which often take advantage of e-commerce to send low-value shipments to customers in foreign countries, when negotiating this issue with trading partners, and (c) continue to provide quarterly reports outlining the status of ongoing trade negotiations, enforcement activities, and objectives achieved for existing trade agreements.
ITC. The ITC would receive $95 million in FY 2019, up from $93.7 million in FY 2018 and about $7.5 million more than the administration requested.
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