The U.S. Constitution grants authority to Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations. Congress exercises this authority in numerous ways, including through oversight of trade policy and consideration of legislation to implement trade agreements and authorize trade programs. Policy issues cover areas such as U.S. trade negotiations, U.S. trade and economic relations with specific regions and countries, international institutions focused on trade, tariff and nontariff barriers, worker dislocation due to trade liberalization, enforcement of trade laws and trade agreement commitments, import and export policies, international investment, economic sanctions, and other trade-related functions of the federal government. Congress also has authority over U.S. financial commitments to international financial institutions and oversight responsibilities for trade- and finance-related agencies of the U.S. government. Issues in the 115th Congress During the 2016 presidential campaign, U.S. trade policy and trade agreements received significant attention, particularly regarding the impact of trade agreements on the U.S. economy and workers. Among the more potentially prominent international trade and finance issues the 115th Congress is considering, or may consider, are: the status of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which is authorized through 2021, provided the President requests an extension and Congress does not enact an extension disapproval resolution before July 2018; the Administration's renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and efforts to modify the U.S.-South Korea (KORUS) free trade agreement (FTA); U.S.-China trade relations, including investment issues, intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, forced technology transfer, currency issues, and market access liberalization; proposals to launch new bilateral FTAs, such as with the United Kingdom, Japan, or possibly with countries in Africa; the future of U.S.-Asia trade and economic relations, given President Trump's withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and China's expanding Belt and Road Initiative; the future status of trade negotiations launched under the Obama Administration, including for the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) FTA with the European Union (EU) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA); oversight of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and negotiations, including the completed Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), as well as potential agreements on environmental goods and the WTO's future overall direction; the Administration's enforcement of U.S. trade laws; the effects of trade on the U.S. economy, jobs, and manufacturing, as well as policies that support U.S. workers and industries adversely affected by trade agreements; international finance and investment issues, including U.S. funding for and oversight of international financial institutions (IFIs), the creation of development and infrastructure banks by emerging economies, and U.S. negotiations on new bilateral investment treaties (BITs), notably with China and India; and oversight of international trade and finance policies to support development and/or foreign policy goals, including trade preferences for sub-Sahara Africa and sanctions on Iran, North Korea, Russia, and other countries.
International Trade and Finance: Overview and Issues for the 115th Congress
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