More Can Be Done To Identify and Help Communities Adjust to Economic Problems Caused by Increased Imports

CED-79-42: Published: May 15, 1979. Publicly Released: May 15, 1979.

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An attempt was made to assess the impact of imports on local economies and to determine whether public officials and business representatives were aware of community benefits provided under the Trade Act. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the Department of Commerce is responsible for administering adjustment assistance to communities and business firms. Under the Trade Act, communities injured by imports are entitled to a wide range of financial assistance provided under the Public Works and Economic Development Act; however, communities must apply for this assistance.

EDA has not set up a separate program to assist communities that have been injured by imports; therefore, these communities have had to compete with communities having economic problems attributable to other factors, such as natural disasters or closed military installations. The Trade Act also mandated that a trade monitoring system be established to identify communities whose economies are vulnerable to import injury. Limitations in data comparability have hindered the establishment of an effective system. Problems include: differences in classifications between imported and domestically produced products, and insufficient detail in reporting and delays in publishing domestic employment and production statistics. There are also insufficient funds to maintain and refine the system.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should reaffirm its position that communities injured by imports are to receive special attention and should specify whether the Department of Commerce should take the actions recommended by GAO. Congress should also amend the certification and benefit delivery provisions of the Trade Act of 1974 by specifying that adjustment assistance be provided through provisions of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965. In place of the certification criteria, Congress should specify that adjustment assistance be provided to communities based on a systematic assessment of their relative needs and their ability to adjust to their individual dislocation problems.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: To assist Congress in assessing what changes may be desirable in the program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Assistant Secretary of EDA to: (1) develop information on the magnitude of the problem by identifying communities injured by imports and indicating the nature and extent of the injury; and (2) present recommendations to Commerce on how assistance levels to trade-impacted communities should be established and the specific funding needed for this purpose.

    Agency Affected:


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