The International Trade Administration
Enhancing America’s Global Competitiveness
What is the International Trade Administration?
The International Trade Administration (ITA) is charged with the mission of strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry, of promoting trade and investment, and of ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. ITA creates opportunities for U.S. workers and firms by promoting international trade opportunities and by fostering a level playing field for American business.
These activities are organized into four different divisions that comprise ITA:
All of ITA’s divisions work together as a team—a team dedicated to helping U.S. businesses compete and win in the global marketplace.
Market Access and Compliance
Opening Markets for U.S. Industry
The Market Access and Compliance (MAC) unit of ITA develops strategies to obtain market access abroad for U.S. companies and to ensure compliance by other countries with their obligations to the United States in the more than 270 international trade agreements that the United States implemented. MAC’s country desk officers and officers in the Trade Compliance Center focus on resolving trade complaints, helping American companies overcome trade barriers, and addressing market access issues such as
- Intellectual property and piracy
- Transparency and contract sanctity
- National treatment
- Good governance
- Sanitary and phytosanitary standards
MAC also provides critical country and trade barrier analysis for the development of U.S. trade policy. Its officers develop programs to improve foreign commercial climates in key markets so that the business environment is conducive to U.S. exports. MAC also leads other important initiatives, including Invest in America and the Program for Entrepreneurial Growth.
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Trade Fact: In 1955, international trade was less than 10 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. In 2006, it approached 30 percent and continues to grow.
United States and Foreign Commercial Service
Expanding Networks Globally
The United States and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) helps U.S. companies enter and expand in markets worldwide. Each year, USFCS counsels tens of thousands of U.S. companies and facilitates billions of dollars of U.S. export sales through a seamless network of offices in 109 U.S. cities and at U.S. embassies and consulates in 80 countries. USFCS is the largest part and most public face of ITA, providing U.S. companies the services of all ITA divisions, including
- Counseling businesses
- Developing market entry strategies
- Providing world-class market research
- Introducing sellers to qualified buyers
- Participating in trade events
- Engaging in trade advocacy
USFCS is also the primary U.S. government conduit through which U.S. companies compete for global business opportunities available through multilateral development banks.
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Trade Fact: Export growth is booming. U.S. merchandise exports were up by 13.9 percent in 2006 with our 30 largest export markets, and were up by more than 20 percent with countries such as Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, and India.
Manufacturing and Services
Enhancing Industry Competitiveness
The Manufacturing and Services (MAS) unit of ITA supports, sustains, and improves America’s business environment. It serves as the voice of, and a valuable resource for, the manufacturing and service sectors of the U.S. economy. The unit’s industry experts and economists shape trade policy, create conditions that encourage innovation, lower the cost of doing business, and promote U.S. economic growth by expanding market access and increasing exports. They do so by
- Evaluating domestic regulations, trade policies, and negotiations that enhance the global competitiveness of U.S. industry
- Participating in and ensuring private industries’ input into the interagency trade policy, regulatory, and promotion process
- Organizing trade capacity-building programs
- Developing a public policy environment that advances U.S. competitiveness at home and abroad
MAS also oversees a number of other important programs, including the Manufacturing Initiative, the Standards and Competitiveness Initiative, the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, Industry Trade Advisory Committees, the Manufacturing Council, and the President’s Export Council.
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Leveling the Playing Field
The Import Administration (IA) enforces trade laws and agreements to prevent unfairly traded imports from entering into the United States. This effort safeguards both jobs and the competitive strength of U.S. industry, while still allowing the American people to benefit from international trade. IA is also the lead federal agency responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs that counter unfair trade practices by foreign governments and companies.
IA also administers a number of other programs that increase U.S. competitiveness with the world:
- Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) are located throughout the United States and provide a duty-equalized physical environment for U.S. businesses competing internationally. By eliminating duties on exports and deferring duties on domestic shipments, FTZs help level the playing field for U.S. companies while encouraging domestic employment and investment.
- The Textile and Apparel Export Program is an aggressive export expansion program designed to help these industries compete. From 2004 to 2006, this program assisted nearly 200 companies with more than $150 million in immediate and projected export sales.
- Other programs administered by IA include the Statutory Import Program and the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis Licensing System.