United States International Trade Commission

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International Trade Commission
United States International Trade Commission seal.PNG
Agency overview
Formed September 8, 1916
Preceding Agency U.S. Tariff Commission
Jurisdiction International Trade Issues
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Employees 356 (as of Sept. 30, 2011)[dated info]
Agency executive Irving A. Williamson, Chairman
Website http://www.usitc.gov/

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) is an independent, bipartisan, quasi-judicial, federal agency of the United States that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches. Furthermore, the agency determines[2] the impact of imports on U.S. industries and directs actions against unfair trade practices, such as subsidies, dumping, patent, trademark, and copyright infringement.

Background and statutory authority[edit]

The USITC was established by the U.S. Congress on September 8, 1916, as the U.S. Tariff Commission.[3] In 1974, the name was changed to the U.S. International Trade Commission by section 171 of the Trade Act of 1974.[4] The agency has broad investigative powers on matters of trade. The USITC is a national resource where trade data is gathered and analyzed. This data is provided to the President and Congress as part of the information on which U.S. international trade policy is based.

Statutory authority for the ITC's responsibilities is provided by the following legislation:


The U.S. International Trade Commission seeks to:

  1. Administer U.S. trade remedy laws within its mandate in a fair and objective manner;
  2. Provide the President, Office of the United States Trade Representative, and Congress with independent, quality analysis, information, and support on matters of tariffs and international trade and competitiveness; and
  3. Maintain the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.

In so doing, the Commission serves the public by implementing U.S. law and contributing to the development and implementation of sound and informed U.S. trade policy.

The ITC's five operations include:

  1. Import Injury Investigations
  2. Intellectual Property-Based Import Investigations
  3. Research Program
  4. Trade Information Services
  5. Trade Policy Support


The USITC is headed by six commissioners nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The formal commission is signed by the President and the Secretary of State. Commissioners are appointed by the President for nine-year terms, unless they are appointed to fill an unexpired term. Terms are scheduled to end 18 months apart. No more than three of the Commissioners may be of the same political party, and commissioners may not be reappointed after five years of service. The Chairman and Vice Chairman are designated by the President for two-year terms, and successive Chairmen may not be of the same political party. Only a Commissioner with more than one year of service may be designated Chairman.[5]

The current commissioners are (in order of precedence):[6]

  • Irving A. Williamson (Chairman) (D–NY; sworn in February 7, 2007, for a term expiring on June 16, 2014)
  • Dean A. Pinkert (D–VA; sworn in February 26, 2007, for a term expiring on December 16, 2015)
  • David S. Johanson (R–TX; sworn in December 8, 2011, for a term expiring on December 16, 2018)
  • Meredith Broadbent (R–VA; sworn in September 10, 2012, for a term expiring on June 16, 2017)


Although the USITC is not a court, its administrative law judges conduct trial-type official administrative hearings. If a Section 337 Tariff Act complaint has at least three votes from its six Commissioners, an official investigative hearing will be assigned to an administrative law judge. Several dozen new ITC investigations are filed every year.[7] Judicial review is normally exercised by the United States Court of International Trade.[8]


Previous commissioners included:

  • Daniel R. Pearson (R–MN; sworn in August 8, 2003, for a term expiring on June 16, 2011)
  • Shara L. Aranoff (D–MD; sworn in September 6, 2005, for a term expiring on December 16, 2012)

On January 4, 1985, a USITC decision in favor of Duracell was overturned by President Ronald Reagan. The case involved the import of alkaline batteries in competition with Duracell, the American manufacturer that developed them.[9]

On September 10, 2012, F. Scott Kieff (R–DC) was nominated for a term expiring June 16, 2020, to replace Daniel R. Pearson.[10]

On August 3, 2013, President Barack Obama overturned the commission's decision in investigation No. 337-TA-794 that would have banned Apple Inc. from importing several of its older products.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About the USITC". U.S. International Trade Commission. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  2. ^ "Recent Decisions from the United Stated International Trade Commission". Docket Alarm, Inc. USITC. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  3. ^ 39 Stat. 795
  4. ^ 19 U.S.C. 2231
  5. ^ 19 U.S.C. § 1330
  6. ^ ISITC Commissioner Biographies from the USITC website
  7. ^ "New I.T.C. Investigations - Sec 337". Docket Alarm, Inc. 
  8. ^ Toupin, James A. (1990). "The U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. International Trade Commission After Ten Years–A Personal View". Fordham Int'l L.J. 4 (1): 10–30. 
  9. ^ Hartman, Carl (January 28, 1985). "Court Asked to Overturn Reagan Ruling". Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  10. ^ Nomination of Kieff Retrieved on 2012-09-20.
  11. ^ O'Brien, Chris (August 3, 2013). "White House overrules ITC trade ban on Apple iPhones, iPads". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 

External links[edit]