International Trade Commission, United States

International Trade Commission, United States, independent agency of the U.S. government established in 1916 as the Tariff Commission; renamed International Trade Commission in 1975. It is charged with serving the president and Congress as an advisory, fact-finding agency on tariff, commercial-policy, and foreign-trade problems. Earlier tariff agencies had a definite policy of protection; the 1916 commission was considered the first truly unbiased agency. Recent legislation, such as the Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, empowers the commission not only to investigate the effects of imports on competing domestic industry, but to direct imports to be excluded if it finds producers engaging in unfair trade or in violation of patent or copyright law. The president may terminate commission orders for policy reasons. On request, the commission's findings are made available to the president or the congressional committees concerned with trade. The commission advises on the possible effects of pending trade agreements or tariff legislation as well. The U.S. Trade Commission consists of six members appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for nine-year terms, not more than three to be of the same political party and the chairman and vice chairman to be of different parties.

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