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A Failure to Consider: Why Lawmakers Create Risk by Ignoring International Trade Obligations

  • Author(s): Kocan, David R.
  • et al.
Abstract

The U.S. Congress frequently passes laws facially unrelated to trade that significantly impact U.S. trade relations. These impacts are often harmful, significant, and long-lasting. Despite this fact, these bills rarely receive adequate consideration regarding how they will impact trade. Without this consideration, Congress cannot properly conduct the benefit-cost analysis necessary to pass effective laws. Failure to consider a law’s unintended consequences almost guarantees poor outcomes. To remedy this problem, the U.S. Congress committee structure could be amended so that laws that impact trade are considered appropriately. However, the domestic focus of Congressional politics leaves the Legislature in a poor position to enforce stable trade policy. Thus, a Presidential Executive Order requiring agencies to consider the trade implications of rules is ultimately necessary.

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