The United States negotiates and suspends free trade agreements (FTAs) and PTLs, also known as preferential programs, to promote the prosperity of the U.S. economy. Free trade agreements and PTLs open new markets for U.S. exports, protect U.S. producers and workers, and promote free and fair trade among our trading partners. The CbP Office of Trade oversees the implementation of these international instruments after they are negotiated by the U.S. Trade Representative and adopted by the U.S. Congress. The Office of Trade manages a portfolio of 15 free trade agreements with 21 countries and about nine other trading programs with more than 179 countries, including preferential programs such as the Generalized Preference System (GSP) and the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The Trump regime is considering a trade pact with India as a way to reduce the trade deficit with the country, which was an intermediary between the two countries and which prompted Washington to impose unilateral tariffs on Indian steel and aluminum exports to the country and withdraw the GSP system. Preferential trade agreements also establish trade rules that reduce, among other things, differences in the cost of operations between Member States. Some PTAs set, for example, minimum standards for work and the environment and the protection of intellectual property. If the cost of compliance is high, such rules-based reforms can impede trade and investment flows, making some firms less competitive in foreign markets. The United States is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) contains rules for trade among the 154 members of the WTO. The United States and other WTO members are currently participating in the WTO negotiations on development in Doha and a strong and open Doha agreement on both goods and services would go a long way in managing the global economic crisis and restoring the role of trade in promoting economic growth and development. “While the scope of the bilateral trade agreement being developed between the United States and India has been significantly reduced, differences remain on issues that both sides want to include in the pact,” the official said. These tariff preferences have led to many departures from the principle of normal trade relations, namely that members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) should apply the same tariff to imports from other WTO members.  In order to ensure that Member States comply with the provisions of an agreement, TAPs create dispute resolution mechanisms. These mechanisms can take two forms: one of them provides a legal platform to assert rights against other Member States; the other allows investors in Member States to assert rights against the governments of other member countries. Since the beginning of the 20th century, several hundred bilateral THPs have been signed.