Future Role of U.S. Trade Policy: An Overview [Updated July 14, 2008]   [open pdf - 71KB]

"The United States has become increasingly integrated with the rest of the world economy. This integration has offered benefits and presented challenges to U.S. business, agriculture, labor, and consumers. Those who can compete in the more integrated economy have enjoyed opportunities to broaden their success, while those who are challenged by increased foreign competition have been forced to adjust and some have exited the market or relocated overseas. Some observers contend that, in order to remain globally competitive, the United States must continue to support trade liberalization policies, while assisting those hurt by trade. Others have raised doubts over whether free trade policies benefit the U.S. economy (e.g., some blame such policies for the large U.S. trade deficit, declining wages, and growing income disparity). Many contend that trade liberalization works only when everyone plays by the rules and have urged the aggressive enforcement of U.S. trade laws to address unfair trade practices. Still others maintain that such issues as labor rights, the environment, and climate change should be linked to trade policies. These competing views are often reflected in the struggle between Congress and the Executive branch in shaping U.S. trade policy. This report provides an overview and background on the debate over the future course of U.S. trade policy and will be updated as events warrant."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS22914
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