Evidencing a strong stand on U.S. rights under international trade agreements and enforcing domestic U.S. trade laws, President Obama has issued an Executive Order creating the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) within the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
Charged with coordinating matters relating to enforcement of U.S. trade rights under international trade agreements and enforcing U.S. domestic trade laws, the ITEC will consist of USTR and the following agencies:
The Executive Order states that a senior-level official at USTR will serve as director of the ITEC, but will still report to the U.S. Trade Representative. Additionally, the Department of Commerce will assign a senior-level official as Deputy Director of ITEC, and an Intelligence Community Liaison will be detailed or assigned to ITEC. The funding and administrative support for ITEC will provided primarily by USTR.
Importance of the Order
This Executive Order is significant, not only for the breadth of authority concentrated in USTR, but also for the inclusion of the Intelligence Community and all of the assets that it brings to enforcement efforts. These could include electronic, including satellite, and human intelligence sources overseas. By coordinating efforts in one administrative function, the administration will likely see synergies that allow more coordinated and pinpointed efforts with access to greater intelligence and other information. Because the Department of Justice has both criminal and civil authority, investigations will also likely be more focused and can be more speedily processed. This may well lead to more prosecutions and related civil enforcement actions.
Overseas companies doing business in and with the U.S. will need to pay close attention to USTR and ITEC given the robust nature of their authority as well as the inclusion of agencies such as the Department of Justice, which have criminal prosecution authority.
The text of the Executive Order can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/02/28/executive-order-establishment-interagency-trade-enforcement-center.
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This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.