International Trade Administration
Established January 2, 1980, in connection with a major overhaul of the federal government's international trade functions. The reorganization sought to expand exports, improve enforcement of U.S. trade laws, and upgrade government trade activities in line with the Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN) agreements signed by the U.S. in 1979.
The Department of Commerce already had major responsibilities in export promotion, trade adjustment assistance, and export control. Under the reorganizaiton, the department assumed responsibility for all nonagricultural trade policy implementation.
As a result of the realignment of responsibilities, the former Industry and Trade Administration was abolished and its functions redistributed. Supervision of the new International Trade Administration (ITA) was vested in a deputy secretary and under-secretary for international trade. The agency's role in export promotion was strengthened by assigning it the responsibility for U.S. commercial attachés in most major countries. Commercial attachés had formerly been responsible to the State Department. The secretary of Commerce was designated an ex officio nonvoting member of the board of the EXPORT-IMPORT BANK. In addition the Commerce Department was assigned responsibility for implementation of trade agreements.
The department's analytical capability was increased, and import remedy responsibilities such as antidumping investigations, imposition of countervailing duties and embargoes, and national security trade investigations were assigned to the department. Most of these responsibilities had formerly been in the Treasury Department.
The ITA's activities are divided into three principal areas, each directed by an assistant secretary.
The international economic policy section is concerned with research, analysis, and development of departmental programs on international trade, investment, and services. It provides direction and coordination for the department's international economic policy. It has primary responsibility for monitoring and implementing the Multilateral Trade Negotiations that were concluded in 1979.
The trade administration section deals with import and export administration issues, including export licensing and enforcement. It monitors certain critical items and imposes export controls on them if supplies are threatened. Offices within the trade administration section formulate and implement antidumping and countervailing duty policy and regulate bilateral import agreements that support the economic well-being of domestic industry.
The trade development section develops programs to expand exports. Programs include direct assistance to U.S. firms and promotional projects such as trade missions to foreign countries and development of trade centers. These activities are carried out by the U.S. and foreign commercial services. The Office of Export Development provides the commercial services, local trade promotion entities, and individual businesses with technical and analytical support. The U.S. Commercial Service, through its district offices, furnishes information, technical assistance, and counseling to the local business community.
In addition, the Commerce Department manages the Foreign Commercial Service, which assists U.S. Traders in countries around the world and gathers information on foreign commercial and industrial trends for the benefit of the U.S. business community.
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