International Trade:

Pursuit of Trade Law Remedies by Small Business

NSIAD-89-69BR: Published: Dec 1, 1988. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1988.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO analyzed the trade law remedies that small businesses pursued against foreign trading practices, focusing on: (1) remedy costs; (2) the International Trade Commission's (ITC) Trade Remedy Assistance Office's provision of assistance and information; (3) small business ability to obtain the resources to pursue remedies; and (4) the costs to the federal government of reimbursing small businesses for legal expenses or of providing direct legal assistance.

GAO found that: (1) the various trade remedies addressed intellectual property protection, antidumping duties, countervailing duties, U.S. access to foreign markets, domestic industry protection, and national security protection; (2) remedy costs varied widely, ranging from $20,000 to several million dollars; (3) small business trade associations, trade lawyers, and officials of trade remedy agencies had different views regarding small business ability to pursue trade remedies; (4) the Office spent about $56,000 annually assisting businesses in filing petitions for trade remedies; and (5) a new trade law extended the Office's help to the post-petition period, although ITC expressed concerns about possible conflicts of interest. GAO also found that: (1) such unknown factors as estimated costs and numbers of cases made it difficult to estimate the costs of the government providing more extensive direct legal assistance or reimbursing small businesses for legal expenses; and (2) other options for reducing the cost burden on small businesses included reimbursing legal expenses only for successful petitioners, requiring losers of a case to pay the winner's legal fees, and creating expedited procedures that small businesses could pursue with fewer resources.

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