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Thursday, January 24, 2013

International Trade and Finance: Key Policy Issues for the 113th Congress

Mary A. Irace, Coordinator
Section Research Manager

J. F. Hornbeck, Coordinator
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution grants authority over the regulation of foreign commerce to Congress. Congress exercises this authority in a variety of ways, including through the consideration of legislation to approve trade agreements and authorize trade programs and through oversight of trade policy more generally. Policy issues cover such areas as: U.S. trade negotiations; tariffs; nontariff barriers; worker dislocation from trade liberalization, trade remedy laws; import and export policies; international investment, economic sanctions; and the trade policy functions of the federal government. Congress also has an important role in international finance. For example, it has the authority over the level of U.S. financial commitments to international financial institutions and oversight responsibilities over trade- and finance-related agencies of the U.S. Government.

The 112
th Congress approved U.S. bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, extended the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs through December 31, 2013, and reauthorized the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) through July 31, 2013. In addition, Congress authorized permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status for Russia and Moldova, reauthorized the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and approved full U.S. participation in general capital increases for the World Bank and four regional development banks. It also conducted oversight of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

The 113
th Congress may revisit many of these issues and address new ones. This report provides an overview of key international trade and finance policy issues, including the ones listed below.

• The ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement negotiations.

  • Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and its possible renewal. 
  • The stalemated WTO Doha Round negotiations and separate new trade liberalizing proposals that some members of the WTO may undertake. 
  • Oversight of the emerging potential for U.S.-European Union FTA negotiations. 
  • U.S.-China trade relations including intellectual property rights protection, currency reform, and market access liberalization. 
  • Renewal of expiring trade programs including GSP and TAA. 
  • The President’s request for new authority to reorganize and consolidate the business- and trade-related functions of six federal entities, oversight of the recently reauthorized Export-Import Bank, and the Administration’s National Export Initiative. 
  • Ongoing review of the President’s export control reform initiative and possible renewal of the Export Control Act (EAA), and review of trade sanctions on Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Syria. 
  • Reauthorization of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 
  • International finance issues including implications of the ongoing Eurozone debt crisis for the U.S. economy, oversight of international financial institutions, and negotiations to conclude new bilateral investment treaties (BITs). 

A list of CRS reports covering each of the issues is provided at the end of the report.

Date of Report: January 4, 2013
Number of Pages: 36
Order Number: R42882
Price: $29.95

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