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Section 201—Global Safeguards

The United States implements measures to address import relief (or a safeguard action) under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. These actions are in accordance with GATT Article XIX and the WTO Safeguards Agreement. United States trade law in this area sets forth the authority and procedures for the President to take action by determining if “an article is being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported article.”

Investigations under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 (from the U.S. International Trade Commission)

Background on Section 201 Safeguards (from the U.S. International Trade Commission)

Section 421—China Specific Safeguard

A second important import relief mechanism is the special safeguard that helps U.S. industries and workers deal with import surges from China. This mechanism, found in Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974 as amended, is available to the United States (and other WTO Members) for 12 years after China’s accession, or until December 11, 2013. This mechanism is distinctive because it is China specific, meaning that it allows the United States to apply safeguard measures that are targeted solely at Chinese products (rather than at imports from all countries, as is normally required by WTO rules).

Investigations Under Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974 (from the International Trade Commission)

Process and Role of Office of Trade Negotiations and Analysis in Safeguard Actions

The process for both safeguard mechanisms is similar. Following the receipt of an appropriate petition, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) conducts an analysis to determine whether relevant imports are, or threaten to be, a substantial cause of disruption to the domestic industry. If a positive determination is made, the ITC then makes recommendations to the President and USTR as to the type of remedy that would provide for import relief.

Once a final ITC recommendation is made, USTR must provide the President with a recommendation as to whether import relief is in the national economic interest, and if so what for form it should take. To do so, USTR works with the inter-agency group, including Commerce. I&A’s Office of Trade Negotiations and Analysis (OTNA) has the lead on coordinating the ITA position on both global (Section 201) and China specific (Section 421) safeguard issues. OTNA coordinates with staff from I&A industry offices, Enforcement and Compliance, Global Markets, and the Office of General Counsel in assessing whether import restrictions will improve the competitiveness of U.S. industries and, if so, what remedies should be imposed. ITA and other agencies will put forth their views on the issue of import relief, and USTR makes the recommendation to the President. The President then makes the final decision regarding whether to impose measures to provide import relief and remedy the market disruption.

This site from the U.S. International Trade Commission outlines the various safeguard cases.

Recent Cases

Section 421 Investigation: Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires from the People’s Republic of China:

Last Updated: 8/25/15 4:51 PM

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