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US Senators Seek To Beef Up Trade Enforcement

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

03 August 2007

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have introduced legislation that will significantly bolster the US government’s trade enforcement abilities.

According to Baucus, the Trade Enforcement Act of 2007 creates tools that will ensure proper enforcement of international trade agreements and domestic trade remedy laws. The proposal devotes more resources to identify and remove trade barriers, institutes greater oversight of trade enforcement, and clarifies procedures for detecting and prosecuting violations of US trade laws.

“Trade is an essential part of America’s economic machine, and this bill ensures we have the right parts to keep that machine running strong,” said Baucus. “Americans play by trade rules and they deserve to benefit from other countries doing the same. This bill gives the right tools to the right folks to deliver financial security to the millions of Americans who rely on tough enforcement of our trade laws.”

Hatch added: “I’m joining Senator Baucus in this effort because I want to help put the US back on the road of free trade. “I generally support open markets around the world and have supported administration after administration in their efforts to liberalize global markets. But we can’t be the only country that is always held to account for allegedly violating international trade agreements. I strongly feel that if the United States does a better job at enforcing our trade laws, we will be able to clear away some of the mistrust and skepticism that currently exists within the Congress when international trade is discussed.

The Trade Enforcement Act of 2007 improves the administration’s ability to enforce international trade agreements abroad and domestic trade remedy laws such as antidumping, countervailing duty, and safeguard laws.

The Baucus-Hatch proposal requires the United States Trade Representative to provide an annual report to Congress identifying its trade enforcement priorities, including priorities identified by Congress, and to take action to address them. The proposal creates a WTO dispute settlement review commission and a Senate-confirmed Chief Enforcement Officer, as championed by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), to investigate and prosecute trade enforcement cases.

The legislation also strengthens the authority of the International Trade Commission and the Commerce Department to enforce our antidumping, countervailing duty, and intellectual property laws. Finally, the legislation limits the President’s discretion under the China safeguard law to ensure that U.S. industries receive the relief that Congress originally intended.

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