Agricultural Trade Agreements

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) is an independent, quasi-judicial federal authority with extensive missions to investigate trade issues. The Agency examines the impact of dumped and subsidized imports on domestic industry and conducts global security investigations. The Commission also rules on cases of alleged infringement of intellectual property rights by imports. Such a procedure facilitates the establishment of a rules-based international trading system. The USITC`s main tasks are (1) the management of U.S. trade elimination legislation, as part of its mandate, in a fair and objective manner; (2) provide the President, USTR and Congress with independent analysis, information and support on U.S. tariffs, international trade and competitiveness; and (3) to maintain the United States Harmonized Tariff Plan (HTS). An example of an ongoing USITC investigation is “Global Beef Trade: Effects of Animal Health, Sanitary, Food Safety, and Other Measures on U.S. Beef Exports,” launched in September 2007. For more information, visit the official USITC website. In accordance with the trade clause of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has exclusive power to regulate international trade. International trade in agriculture is governed by many federal laws.

One federal law that can have the greatest impact on agricultural trade is the Farm Bill, which must be revised and renewed every 5 years. For example, the 2002 Farm Bill caused riots by creating the original marking requirement (COOL), where some imported agricultural raw materials must carry a country of origin label at the retail level. A country-of-origin identification provision for meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and other products was also included in the 2008 Farm Bill. You will find a debate about the original marking in the original marking room. Other national agricultural legislation can have an indirect impact on trade. For example, national commodity price support programmes and agricultural commodity export subsidies can distort trade. These laws can cause commodity prices on the world market to be lower than they would be without subsidies.