With the increasing integration of the major economies of the world, trade frictions have also increased. The Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, once scheduled for completion in December 1990, has been slowed over the issue of agricultural subsidies. The U.S.-Japanese trade relations have continued to be a source of friction between the two countries. At issue in all these disputes is whether the United States and other countries are playing ""fairly"" in the international trade arena.The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) outlines a variety of rules designed to ensure fairness. The United States, like other GATT signatories, has enacted statutes designed, for the most part, to be consistent with the GATT requirements.
In this book, Richard Boltuck and Robert E. Litan, joined by a team of attorneys and economists with direct experience in ""unfair trade"" practice investigations, provide the first study of how one of the U.S. governmental agencies charged with implementing the U.S. laws governing unfair trade the Department of Commerce has actually discharged its statutory mission. In particular, the book focuses on the antidumping and countervailing duty statutes, provisions allowing the United States to impose offsetting duties on imports that are sold here at prices below those charged by the producers in their home countries that benefit from subsidies provided by foreign governments to encourage exports. Although these provisions may have once been obscure parts of the U.S. trade laws, they have figured importantly in many recent celebrated trade disputes, including those involving the import of foreign-made semiconductors, steel, lumber, screen displays for laptop computers, word processors, and minivan vehicles.
All but one of the authors in the volume are highly critical of the procedures used by the Department of Commerce to calculate margins of dumping and export subsidization. Specifically, they find that at many points in the investigations, both through substantive and procedural requirements, there is a bias toward higher margins, and therefore higher import duties, than is warranted by economic theory; and in some cases by the GATT antidumping and subsidy codes themselves. Significantly, these authors contend that most of the biases can be removed without legislative change, but rather through changes in administrative practice.