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International trade developments and U.S. government services

California companies involved in international trade are subject to trade policy developments around the globe. The World Trade Organization notes that trade-facilitating and trade-restricting measures are constantly being implemented. In fact, according to the data gathered by the WTO for the period between October 2016 and May 2017, there was an average of more than 10 new measures each month.

While this may seem like a lot for a business engaged in international trade to keep up with, the number actually represents a significantly low point over the past 10 years, with only 2008 being lower.

Trade-facilitating measures

Members of the WTO introduced 80 trade-facilitating measures during the October 2016 to May 2017 period. In addition to simplified customs procedures, typical trade-facilitating measures include the temporary or permanent elimination of the following:

  • Import/export tariffs
  • Import/export taxes
  • Quantitative restrictions on imports/exports

Trade-restrictive measures

There were 74 new measures implemented that had a restricting effect on world trade. These temporary or permanent measures include the following:

  • New import bans
  • Quantitative restrictions
  • New or increased import/export tariffs
  • More complicated customs regulations/procedures
  • More complex local content requirements

International trade assistance services

In addition to the regulations, oversight and services provided by the WTO, U.S. businesses may receive trade assistance through the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration. Like the WTO, the ITA monitors trends in global imports/exports. The federal agency also provides oversight and compliance with international trade agreements, pursues fraud and duty evasion issues, and conducts investigations to identify whether imports are unfairly subsidized or are selling for lower than the fair value.

U.S. companies that export goods may seek assistance when facing barriers to foreign trade and in cases involving foreign trade remedies. The ITA also provides counsel to those industries that need to petition the federal government for relief from imports that are unfairly traded.

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