U.S. Establishes Trade Enforcement Center

President Obama Signs Executive Order

Aiming to crack down on unfair trade practices – particularly those related to China – President Barack Obama has signed an executive order designed to strengthen the government's response to those who inhibit U.S. exports. The order specifically creates the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), drawing resources from the Departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Justice, State and Treasury.

"With the ITEC announcement, we are doubling down on the administration's commitment to strong trade enforcement," said U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk. "We'll bring more resources to bear on the most commercially significant challenges facing our producers, as well as emerging issues that have important implications for the future of our rules-based global trading system."

The new center, which will be staffed with analysts, language experts, trade litigators and foreign-based personnel, will be housed within the office of the USTR. Obama has requested $26 million in new funding for the center – an amount that still must be approved by Congress. In the meantime, funding for start-up costs will be redirected from other areas, according to officials.

A director for the new center has not been named, but will be chosen by Kirk, while a deputy director will be selected by U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson. "We will bring an aggressive government-wide approach to trade enforcement," Bryson said. "Our plan is to link, leverage and align the resources we already have in a number of these agencies and add even more resources." – DV