International Trade: Advisory Committee System Should Be Updated to Better Serve U.S. Policy Needs

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 1974, Congress mandated creation of a private sector advisory system to ensure that representatives from private business and other groups with a stake in trade policy could provide input as negotiations unfolded. The hope was that such involvement would result in trade agreements that Congress could approve with confidence. The law established a three-tier structure of committees to advise the President on overall U.S. trade policy, general policy area, and technical aspects of trade agreements. Four agencies, led by the Office of the U.S. Trade ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. September 24, 2002.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 1974, Congress mandated creation of a private sector advisory system to ensure that representatives from private business and other groups with a stake in trade policy could provide input as negotiations unfolded. The hope was that such involvement would result in trade agreements that Congress could approve with confidence. The law established a three-tier structure of committees to advise the President on overall U.S. trade policy, general policy area, and technical aspects of trade agreements. Four agencies, led by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), currently administer the committee system. According to many negotiators, agency officials, and committee members, the trade policy advisory committee system plays an important role in U.S. trade policy and has made valuable contributions to U.S. trade agreements. Although GAO's survey of committee members found high levels of satisfaction with many aspects of committee operations and effectiveness, more than a quarter of respondents indicated that the system has not realized its potential to contribute to U.S. trade policy. GAO found that consultations could be more timely and meaningful and that the consultation process needs greater accountability. The structure and composition of the committee system have not been fully updated to reflect changes in the U.S. economy and U.S. trade policy. In general, the system's committee structure is largely the same as it was in 1980, even though the focus of U.S. trade policy has shifted from border taxes toward other complex trade issues, such as protection of intellectual property rights and food safety requirements. Leadership direction and administrative support by USTR and the other managing agencies have not been sufficient to ensure that the advisory committee system works reliably. GAO found that negotiators have used inconsistent approaches to solicit committee member views, with some negotiators not consulting with committees at all."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • September 24, 2002

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. International Trade: Advisory Committee System Should Be Updated to Better Serve U.S. Policy Needs, report, September 24, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292711/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.