Congress regulates commerce with foreign nations, and the president makes treaties. Who then, has the first and last word on treaties related to foreign commerce?
Kathleen Claussen is Professor at the University of Miami School of Law. Prior to joining the Miami Law faculty, she was Associate General Counsel at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. She was previously Legal Counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Professor Claussen’s primary teaching areas and research interests include: international economic law, dispute settlement & procedure, and international security and cybersecurity issues. Her work has been published in the Yale Law Journal, the Yale Journal of International Law, the American Journal of International Law Unbound, among others.
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Trade authorities delegated to the president by Congress represent two distinct approaches to trade—a primary tariff-lowering approach and a secondary security-premised tariff-raising approach.
On May 30, the White House announced yet another new policy aimed at addressing the purported crisis of unlawful immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border. President Trump’s statement proposes a dramatic new strategy—putting tariffs on U.S. imports from Mexico unless and until Mexico takes steps to reduce illegal immigration into the United States:
The last weeks of 2018 have precipitated significant developments in the so-called trade wars between the United States and its trading partners. Yet the recent agreements made and signed did little to advance efforts toward greater cooperation on the “three-digit sagas”—the tit-for-tat tariff battles occurring under statutory delegations known by their three-digit references, such as Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
After many months of the executive branch taking action against U.S. trading partners, Congress is starting to push back.
A surprise announcement from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President Donald Trump on Wednesday may be the first hint of a cease-fire in the trade war that the United States initiated when it imposed national-security-premised tariffs this spring. The initial outlook for Juncker’s visit was not good. Still, he and Trump unveiled plans to “work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” “to reform the WTO” and to “resolve” the recent steel and aluminum tariffs, among other collaborations.