The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative plans to pursue an “aggressive” trade enforcement agenda that includes both offensive and defensive measures, according to a recent report to Congress. These efforts will include everything from monitoring and communication, to helping trade partners implement their commitments on time, to dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization or remedial measures under U.S. trade laws. USTR states that its enforcement actions will be designed to increase U.S. economic growth and job creation, promote reciprocity with trading partners, strengthen the United States’ manufacturing base and ability to defend itself, and expand agricultural and services exports.
USTR states that its primary objective is defending the Department of Commerce’s ability to apply appropriate antidumping and countervailing duties to combat distortions caused by China’s non-market economy system and government subsidies that are injuring U.S. workers and industries. In this context the report highlights the international steel and aluminum markets, which “are currently experiencing significant oversupply” that is due in large part to “production from excessive and uneconomic capacity in China” and has caused “the displacement of U.S. exports in foreign markets.”
The report also emphasizes defending trade remedies more broadly, noting that foreign governments are increasingly challenging at the World Trade Organization not only specific U.S. AD and CV duty orders but also U.S. trade remedy laws and practices in general. As a result, USTR vows to “vigorously enforce” U.S. rights in this area, stating that it is “critical” for WTO members to “fully recognize [the] centrality” of trade remedy laws to the international trading system.
The report lists several other trade enforcement priorities as well but does not appear to indicate any heightened initiatives in these areas. For example, USTR states that a “critical component” of the administration’s “aggressive efforts” on intellectual property rights will be identifying IPR-related market access barriers and the steps necessary to address them, but USTR’s annual Special 301 report has done this for many years. Other longstanding efforts that USTR plans to continue include identifying and confronting unjustified barriers stemming from technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures, such as the growing number of foreign regulations that restrict the marketing, advertising, and labeling of food, alcoholic beverages, infant formula, and energy drinks, and pursuing the elimination of traditional trade barriers such as import licensing restrictions, non-science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures, export subsidies, and discriminatory content requirements.