In 1960, U.S. imports of goods and services totaled $22.4 billion. In 2016, however, imports totaled $2.71 trillion, 121 times the 1960 total. Exports experienced a similar growth, from $25.9 billion in 1960 to $2.21 trillion in 2016. U.S. companies, workers, and consumers all benefit from this growth. Rapidly growing imports, however, can create severe dislocations at home. At the same time, export growth resulting from U.S. innovation and competitiveness may be artificially restrained. Surging imports or restricted exports, however, rather than reflecting true competitive advantages, may be caused by a foreign government not following internationally agreed upon rules, or by trading partners not honoring agreements, or, in the case of imports, simply by pricing that is discriminatory or below cost. U.S. law provides multiple tools for companies (or their workers) to address these distortions head-on.
The percentage of trade affected by trade disputes remains small. But, most sectors of manufacturing, agriculture, and increasingly, services have had to resort to or will in the future need to rely on the power of the trade laws and the international agreement dispute settlement procedures to address distortions that threaten investment, undermine employment, restrict critical research and development, and misallocate resources between trading partners.
Indeed, companies that want to maximize their global performance should have a full understanding of their rights and obligations within the trading system and the tools provided by domestic law or international agreement, to address distortions that may arise in the future.
For more than half a century, the lawyers of Stewart and Stewart (and our predecessor firms) have assisted companies (or workers) to identify and, if needed, pursue their rights aggressively, whether arising from U.S. trade law or international agreement. Moreover, many trading partners have similar types of trade remedies (antidumping, countervailing duty, safeguard) and all trading partners who are parties to the WTO or to bilateral or plurilateral trade agreements similarly have strong interest in obtaining benefits from the rights and the obligations others have. Thus, Stewart and Stewart can help clients who have issues in the United States and, in conjunction with local counsel, in trade matters in other countries.
We can also assist and counsel U.S. and foreign companies to develop internal review systems that will help them to identify potential exposure to actions abroad as well as advise on the operation of international agreements and apparent consistency of laws and regulations with international obligations.
Our firm has a long and rich history of helping companies and workers prevail in the international marketplace. For over 50 years, we have represented a wide range of industries, including producers of various agricultural, floricultural, fishing, consumer goods, metals, chemicals, electronics and electronic components, rubber and rubber products, paper, automotive and automotive parts, manufacturing equipment and other products. We have done so in hundreds of cases at the administrative and judicial level in the United States, as well as in other countries, including the European Union, Australia, South Africa and Mexico. And, we have advised on the consistency of law and practices in other countries including China and Canada.
Our legal and Government Relations teams pursue client interests and objectives in Washington and abroad on the full range of international trade issues covered by our trade remedy practice as well as non-trade issues.