USTR Calls for Trade Inquiry That Gives Underserved Communities a Seat at the Table | Wiley Rein LLP


On October 14, 2021, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai filed a request with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) for a Section 332 investigation into the distributive effects of trade in goods and services and trade policy. The demand builds on the Biden administration’s goals of a worker-centered trade policy, inclusive for all Americans, and having both a positive and equitable impact on marginalized, underserved and disadvantaged communities in the United States. United and abroad.

Although Section 332 investigations are general fact-finding procedures and do not directly result in formal trade actions, this USTR request represents a significant change in US trade policy. which actively considers the impact of trade on underserved communities. A formal shift to inclusive trade could have far-reaching implications for American workers, especially those who did not have a seat at the table when traditional American trade policy was crafted and millions of jobs were sent to. abroad. This Section 332 request follows the USTR outlining the Biden administration’s U.S.-China trade strategy and an earlier report released by the House Ways and Means Committee highlighting decades of U.S. trade policy that has either perpetuated or exacerbated unequal access to the benefits of trade. for individuals and communities, especially Blacks and Latin Americans.

Who are the underserved communities? The White House describes members of underserved communities as “Blacks, Latinos, Indigenous and Native Americans, Asian and Pacific Island Americans and other people of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ +) people; People with Disabilities; people who live in rural areas; and those otherwise affected by persisting poverty or inequality.[1] The term underserved communities therefore refers to “populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, which have systematically been denied the full opportunity to participate in certain aspects of economic, social and civic life”.[2]

The USTR request calls for the ITC to conduct a two-part investigation into the potential distributive effects of trade in goods and services and trade policy on American workers based on skills, level of pay and wages, gender, race / ethnicity, age and income level, especially as they affect underserved communities.

Part one focuses on identifying the distributive effects of trade and trade policy on underserved U.S. workers by group, including identifying their specific U.S. region and making recommendations for future research. USTR suggests three distinct methods for collecting and reporting information in Part One:

  1. Round tables: These discussions aim to gather information from representatives of underrepresented and underserved communities, think tanks, academics and researchers, labor unions, state and local governments, non-federal government entities, experts in civil society, community stakeholders, such as minority-owned businesses, business incubators, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), Hispanic service institutions (HSI), tribal colleges and universities (TCU) , other institutions serving minorities (MSI) and local and national civil rights organizations;
  2. Symposium: This approach focuses on academic or similar research on the distributive effects on underrepresented and underserved communities of trade and trade policy, including the results of existing analyzes, evaluation of methodologies, use of public and restricted data in the current analysis, identification of gaps in data and / or economic literature, and proposed analyzes that could be done with restricted data; and
  3. Critical review of the economic literature: This approach analyzes the economic literature regarding the distributive effects on underrepresented and underserved communities of trade and trade policy, including, among others, the data limitations raised in these analyzes.

Second part of this survey calls for the ITC to expand its research and analysis capacities so that the agency is equipped with tools to better analyze how certain trade policies affect American workers. In particular, the USTR requests that the ITC develop estimates and models capable of analyzing the potential distributive effects of trade and trade policy on American workers for future Section 332 investigations that provide guidance on the likely economic effects. This would include an analysis of imports of goods and services as well as an analysis of the effect of expanding market access for US goods and services abroad on affected US export industries and, in the wherever possible, the “indirect” effect on US exports of intermediate inputs when the finished products enjoy preferential access to the US market. Finally, the USTR asked the ITC to identify any limitation in the data that, if removed, could significantly improve the ITC’s analysis or the time it takes to complete its analysis.

The ITC reports for the two-part survey on the distributive effects of goods and services will be due within 12 months. While the ITC generally does not make any policy recommendations, the Biden administration should take this opportunity to continue to educate and connect its foreign policy goals to the lives of ordinary Americans. While “recommendations for future research” and expanding ITC’s research and analytical capacity appear to be initial goals, the Biden administration should consider measures that encourage recruitment, retention and promotion. underserved communities in manufacturing as well as their ownership of manufacturing facilities for a truly inclusive trade policy.

Listen to Derick’s podcast series, “Making Trade Inclusive for All Americans” here.

[1] See Executive Order (EO) 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Federally Underserved Communities (January 20, 2021) in Sec. 2. Definitions.

[2] Identifier.


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