Mary A. Irace, Coordinator
Section Research Manager
J. F. Hornbeck, Coordinator
Specialist in International Trade and Finance
The U.S. Constitution grants authority over the regulation of foreign commerce to Congress, which it exercises in a variety of ways. These include the oversight of trade policy generally, and more particularly, the consideration of legislation to approve trade agreements and authorize trade programs. 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. It has the authority over U.S. financial commitments to international financial institutions and oversight responsibilities for trade- and finance-related agencies of the U.S. Government.
The 112th Congress approved U.S. bilateral free trade agreements 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.
The 113th Congress may revisit many of these issues and address new ones. Among the more potentially prominent issues are:
- Negotiations for comprehensive reciprocal trade agreements with major trading partners, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 countries from the Western Hemisphere and Asia, and new negotiations with the European Union for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreement;
- Possible renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), allowing the President to enter into reciprocal trade agreements, and providing trade negotiating objectives and expedited legislative procedures to consider trade agreement implementing bills; and the possible related issue of TAA program reauthorization;
- U.S.-China trade relations including investment, intellectual property rights protection, currency reform, and market access liberalization;
- 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);
- Oversight of the stalemated World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round negotiations and separate new trade negotiations (e.g. services) that some members of the WTO have undertaken;
- Review of the President’s export control reform initiative and possible renewal of the Export Control Act (EAA), and review of trade sanctions;
- Oversight of the President’s request for new authority to reorganize and consolidate the business- and trade-related functions of six federal entities; the Export-Import Bank, and the Administration’s National Export Initiative;
- Reauthorization of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and expiring trade preference programs (e.g., the GSP and the Andean Trade Preference Act).
A list of CRS reports covering these issues is provided at the end of the report.
Date of Report: April 15, 2013
Number of Pages: 36
Order Number: R42882
R42882.pdf to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART
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