On February 28, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), a new trade enforcement unit falling under the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). This trade enforcement unit was first announced during President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 24, 2012.
The ITEC was formed in response to the growing call to address the government’s ineffectual efforts to enforce trade laws and crack down on foreign counterfeiters, transshippers and other trade violators. It will be tasked with addressing such topics as foreign currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty orders, and illegal subsidization of specific industries by foreign governments. Although the Executive Order does not specifically mention China, it is understood that a significant amount of attention in this Center will be directed toward investigating certain Chinese trade practices that have been criticized in recent years.
The Executive Order first establishes the underlying need for the myriad executive departments and federal agencies involved in administering international trade matters to “coordinate and augment their efforts” in identifying and reducing unfair trade practices and trade barriers. The ITEC will serve as the “primary forum” for coordinating enforcement of U.S. trade rights under international trade agreements and enforcement of domestic trade laws.
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