J. F. Hornbeck, Coordinator Specialist in International Trade and
Mary Jane Bolle Specialist in International Trade and Finance
William H. Cooper Specialist in International Trade and Finance
Craig K. Elwell Specialist in Macroeconomic Policy
James K. Jackson Specialist in International Trade and Finance
Vivian C. Jones Specialist in International Trade and Finance
M. Angeles Villarreal Specialist in International Trade and Finance
113th Congress may have a full
legislative and oversight agenda on international trade. This may include
consideration of legislation to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and implementation
of a possible Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Congress may also
pay close attention to the new negotiation for an International Services
Agreement and developments in the Doha Development Round, both under the
auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). There is also discussion
of beginning trade negotiations for a U.S.- European Union free trade
agreement (FTA). Other issues might include enhanced enforcement of U.S.
trade agreements and trade relations with China. This report provides
information and context for these and many other trade topics. It is
intended to assist members and staff who may be new to trade issues. For
more details on specific trade issues facing the 113th Congress see CRS Report R42882, International Trade and
Finance: Key Policy Issues for the 113th Congress, coordinated by Mary
A. Irace and J. F. Hornbeck.
This report is divided into four sections in a question-and-answer format:
trade concepts; U.S. trade performance; formulation of U.S. trade policy;
and trade and investment issues. Additional suggested readings are
provided in an appendix.
The first section, “Trade Concepts,” deals with why countries trade, the
consequences of trade expansion, and the relationship between
globalization and trade. Key questions address the benefits of
specialization in production and trade, efforts by governments to influence a
country’s comparative advantage, how trade expansion can be costly and
disruptive to workers in particular industries and skill categories, and
some unique characteristics of trade between developed countries.
The second section, “U.S. Trade Performance,” focuses on the U.S. trade deficit
and its impact on industries. Several questions address the causes of
trade deficits, the role of foreign trade barriers, and how the trade
deficit can be reduced. In terms of business impacts, the questions focus on which
U.S. industries appear to be the most and least competitive, and on the
relative size of the manufacturing sector.
The third section, “Formulation of U.S. Trade Policy,” deals with the roles
played by the executive branch, Congress, the private sector, and the
judiciary in the formulation of U.S. trade policy. Information on how
trade policy functions are organized in Congress and the executive branch,
as well as the respective roles of individual members and the President, is
provided. The formal and informal roles of the private sector and the
involvement of the judiciary are also covered.
The fourth section, “U.S. Trade and Investment Policy Issues,” asks questions
related to trade negotiations and agreements and to imports, exports, and
investments. The justification, types, and consequences of trade
liberalization agreements, along with the role of the World Trade Organization,
are treated in this section. The costs and benefits of imports, exports, and investments
are also discussed, including how the government deals with disruption and
injury to workers and companies caused by imports and its efforts to both
restrict and promote exports. The motivations and consequences of foreign
direct investment flows are also discussed.
Date of Report: January 18, 2013
Number of Pages: 35 Order Number: RL33944 Price: $29.95
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