Constitutional scholars, lawyers, and policy analysts have long raised concerns about executive branch overreach on trade policy. The issue exploded into prominence in 2018 when President Trump authorized tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, which his Department of Commerce had identified as a national security threat under Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962. But long before the row over Section 232, Commerce was routinely abusing the vast discretion afforded to it while administering antidumping law. In a new report, Cato scholar Daniel J. Ikenson argues that a new provision in antidumping law hastens its decades‐long transformation from a plausibly remedial tool into a convenient cover for brute‐force protectionism.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in the midst of a series of crises: its dispute system is struggling to function; its director‐general stepped down early; a U.S. senator is publicly advocating for it to be “abolished”; and it has been decades since a major new round of liberalization has been completed. On the other hand, its regular work of monitoring and discussing governments’ trade policies is continuing; governments are finding workarounds for the dispute process; and there have been low‐profile deals struck in a number of policy areas. Are the straits as dire for the WTO as they sometimes seem, or is it simply in need of minor tweaks and new global leadership? What does the future hold for the WTO? Watch the event‐cast to find out.
Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962—the so‐called national security statute—gives the president vast latitude to identify and define the nature of a threat to national security and to determine appropriate actions to mitigate that threat. Recently the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a case brought by an association of steel importers who argue that the law’s absence of an “intelligible principle” to guide the executive’s actions constitutes a violation of the nondelegation doctrine, rendering the law unconstitutional. Please join us in discussion cover policy options and the broader range of trade laws where Congress seems to have ceded seemingly boundless discretion.