Legal Framework

At their most basic level, all United States trade remedies are about restricting competition from foreign companies, so as to benefit domestic companies.

In subsequent chapters the various trade remedies are discussed in some detail. This section simply sketches the laws and provides a general overview.

As table 1 shows, the United States has applied its 'unfair trade' laws - anti-dumping and countervailing duties - to a variety of countries. Even excluding Japan, the Republic of Korea, the various European Union (EU) countries and other OECD countries - all frequent targets - there is an amazing number and range of cases against developing countries.

An anti-dumping or countervailing duty investigation is an administrative proceeding through which two United States Government agencies — the United States Department of Commerce (the Commerce Department) and the United States International Trade Commission (the Commission) — decide whether unfairly traded imports are injuring a United States industry.

Developing countries are entitled to a different rule for de minimis countervailing duty margins.

An unfair trade investigation can begin in two different ways. The investigation usually begins when an 'interested party' (a domestic producer of the product in question, a labour union, or a trade association) files a petition with the Commerce Department and the Commission alleging that dumping or subsidization is taking place.

Within 45 days after the petition is filed, the Commission must make a preliminary determination of whether there is evidence of injury to the domestic industry.

Shortly after the investigation is initiated, the Commerce Department sends out a detailed questionnaire to foreign manufacturers and exporters of the merchandise under investigation.

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