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Highlights

In joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001, China agreed to a number of mechanisms to allow other WTO members to address disruptive import surges from that country. Among these was a transitional product-specific safeguard. In general, safeguards are temporary import restrictions of limited duration that provide an opportunity for domestic industries to adjust to increasing imports. U.S. law includes a number of other safeguards including a communist country safeguard, known as "section 406," and a global safeguard, known as "section 201," which have both applied to China. In light of increased concern about Chinese trade practices and the U.S. government response to them, the conference report on fiscal year 2004 appropriations requested that GAO review the efforts of U.S. government agencies responsible for ensuring free and fair trade with that country. In this report, which is one of a series, GAO (1) describes the China safeguard, (2) describes how it has been used thus far, and (3) examines issues related to the President's discretion to apply the safeguard. Other safeguards provide context to understand this mechanism. We provided ITC and USTR a draft of this report for their review and comment. Both agencies chose to provide technical comments from their staff. We incorporated their suggestions as appropriate.

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