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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I import products into the United States?

Please contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

How can I learn about foreign product standards?

Please contact the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

How can I learn about import or export licensing?

The International Trade Administration's Import Administration licenses steel imports through the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis System.

Please contact the Bureau of Industry and Security and/or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (importing, exporting).

I think that my company’s product would be successful in other countries, but I’m not sure how to get started in international business. Is there help for new exporters?

Exporting can be profitable for U.S. companies, large and small. To learn more about getting started, visit the Export Basics section on the U.S. government’s export portal, Export.gov. You’ll be able to take the Export Readiness Assessment and learn how to prepare to enter new markets. You can also talk to trade specialists at the U.S. Commercial Service’s Trade Information Center. Call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E)

I’m shipping my product to Canada. How do I fill out a NAFTA Certificate of Origin? Are there other documents to be filled out?

Your shipment may need a NAFTA Certificate of Origin and a Shipper’s Export Declaration. To learn more about export documentation, please visit Export.gov to learn more.

The U.S. Commercial Service’s Trade Information Center or the trade specialists at your local Export Assistance Center can also help answer these questions. Call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) or find your local Export Assistance Center.

How can I learn more about my product or service’s sales potential in overseas markets?

Market Research is a good first step to learn about the sales potential of your product or service in countries abroad. The U.S. Commercial Service offers free online market research to U.S. companies seeking to enter international markets. Its database allows you to sort by country, industry, and/or type of market report. Visit the Commercial Service's Market Research Library and register to access these reports.

How can I locate importers, distributors, sales reps, etc. in an overseas market?

The U.S. Commercial Service has programs and services to help you locate potential business partners overseas. Contact your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center and speak with an International Trade Specialist. You can also receive free export counseling and learn more about our programs and services to help you compete around the globe. Call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) or visit Export.gov to find your local Export Assistance Center.

What can Market Access and Compliance (MAC) do to help your business?

After you contact our Trade Compliance Center or the country desk in one of our regional offices, MAC will evaluate whether the problem is a market access issue or a compliance problem with an existing trade agreement. MAC will establish a team of experts on the country, the industry, the trade agreement, and other needed areas. The team will review all possible options to resolve the problem and then work through each tactic toward a solution.

What is the difference between Market Access and Compliance?

Market Access – U.S. exporters sometimes encounter trade barriers. For instance, a country may only allow products to enter the most inconvenient port or a country may treat imported goods differently than domestic goods. MAC receives calls from businesses, associations, and international U.S. commercial offices, and we then map out a plan to solve the problem.

Compliance – The United States is a party in over 250 trade agreements. But trade agreements are only paper unless foreign governments comply with their obligations. MAC addresses compliance problems quickly and aggressively. Once a problem is identified, we organize a team to outline and implement a solution.

What are some common trade problems MAC can help U.S. businesses overcome?

MAC provides help with the following common trade problems through the Trade Compliance Center:

  • Tariff and customs barriers
  • Service barriers
  • Standards, testing, labeling, or certification barriers
  • Rules of origin
  • Government procurement contract barriers
  • Intellectual property protection problems
  • Excessive government requirements
  • Excessive testing or licensing fees
  • Bribery
  • Investment

What do MAC services cost?

MAC’s services are free of charge to all U.S. businesses.

What is Dumping?

Dumping occurs when a foreign producer sells a product in the United States at a price that is below that producer's sales price in the country of origin (home market), or at a price that is lower than the cost of production. The difference between the price (or cost) in the foreign market and the price in the U.S. market is called the dumping margin. Unless the conduct falls within the legal definition of dumping as specified in U.S. law, a foreign producer selling imports at prices below those of American products is not necessarily dumping.

What is a Countervailable Subsidy?

Foreign governments subsidize industries when they provide financial assistance to benefit the production, manufacture, or exportation of goods. Subsidies can take many forms, such as direct cash payments, credits against taxes, and loans at terms that do not reflect market conditions. The statute and regulations establish standards for determining when an unfair subsidy has been conferred. The amount of subsidies the foreign producer receives from the government is the basis for the subsidy rate by which the subsidy is offset, or "countervailed," through higher import duties.

How is Dumping or Subsidization remedied?

If a U.S. industry believes that it is being injured by unfair competition through dumping or subsidization of a foreign product, it may request the imposition of antidumping or countervailing duties by filing a petition with both Import Administration and the United States International Trade Commission. Import Administration investigates foreign producers and governments to determine whether dumping or subsidization has occurred and calculates the amount of dumping or subsidies.

For more information, contact the Petition Counseling and Analysis Unit.

What is the role of the International Trade Commission in AD/CVD investigations?

The International Trade Commission determines whether the domestic industry is suffering material injury as a result of the imports of the dumped or subsidized products. The International Trade Commission considers all relevant economic factors, including the domestic industry's output, sales, market share, employment, and profits. For further information on the International Trade Commission's injury investigation, see http://www.usitc.gov. Both the International Trade Commission and Import Administration must make affirmative preliminary determinations for an investigation to go forward.

How can I learn more about filing a petition?

Antidumping and countervailing duty trade remedies have been successfully pursued by a variety of domestic industries, including producers of steel, industrial equipment, computer chips, agricultural products, textiles, chemicals, and consumer products. Both the Import Administration and the International Trade Commission have staff available to assist domestic industries in deciding whether there is sufficient evidence to file a petition for antidumping or countervailing duty investigations. The staff may also assist eligible small businesses with the filing process. Contact the Import Administration, Petition Counseling and Analysis Unit at (202) 482-1255 or by e-mail at petition.counseling@trade.gov.




The International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, manages this global trade site to provide access to ITA information on promoting trade and investment, strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry, and ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein. This site contains PDF documents. A PDF reader is available from Adobe Systems Incorporated.