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Trade remedies

What are trade remedies?

Trade remedies are border measures applied by governments on imports of a product where the total imports have surged (safeguards) or the imports are dumped or subsidized (anti-dumping and countervailing measures, respectively); and where the imports in question have been found to have injured the competing domestic industries. Anti-dumping, countervailing, and safeguard measures are regulated by three separate agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO): the Agreement on Implementation of Article VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (known as the Anti-Dumping Agreement); the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement); and the Agreement on Safeguards (SG Agreement). For small businesses, trade remedies should be looked at from two perspectives: where the products of small businesses are subject to trade remedies investigations and measures in export markets; and where small businesses request the application of trade remedies in respect of imports competing with their products in their own markets. For more information on trade remedies, please see WTO’s Trade Topics on Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, and Safeguard Measures.

How can trade remedies affect small businesses that export?

Where small businesses are exporting a product to a market in which a trade remedy on that product is in effect, the product will be subject to additional import duties, or in the case of safeguards possibly quantitative restrictions. These remedies will increase the costs of and regulations for entering the goods into the export market, beyond the normally applicable customs duties and other taxes applicable to imports.

If a small business participated in the investigation leading up to the application of a trade remedy measure, this would imply work and associated costs in providing the information required in the investigation, and in representing the business’s interests before the investigating authority in the importing country that is conducting the investigation.

Small businesses that export thus should be familiar with the nature and operation of trade remedies, and of the investigations that must be conducted for trade remedies to be applied. For more information, see WTO’s Handbook of Anti-Dumping Investigations.

  • What can policymakers do? When governments conduct trade remedies investigations, they are expected to bear in mind the challenges faced by small businesses that are exporters of the investigated goods, as provided for in Article 16.3 of the Antidumping Agreement: “The authorities shall take due account of any difficulties experienced by interested parties, in particular small companies, in supplying information requested, and shall provide any assistance practicable.”
  • Governments of exporting economies also can provide assistance to small business exporters that find themselves involved in trade remedy investigations or affected by trade remedy measures.

How can small businesses seek the application of trade remedies on imports of products they produce?

Depending on the circumstances, trade remedies may be one possible source of relief for small businesses facing competition from imports that may be dumped or subsidized, or may be surging. Representativity requirements on domestic producers seeking application of anti-dumping and countervailing measures on behalf of a domestic industry mean that small businesses would need to work with others in their industry to apply for trade remedy relief. See experiences documented by government offices, such as the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). Governments can provide assistance to applicants, including small businesses, in preparing applications to open trade remedy investigations.

  • What can policymakers do? Policymakers can, for instance, develop knowledge portals with clear guidelines on procedures that small businesses could follow to file a trade remedy application. Examples of such initiatives include the European Commission’s SME Trade Defence Helpdesk and the United States International Trade Commission’s Trade Remedy Assistance Program.

Where can I access resources on policy frameworks, guidelines and tools?

  • World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Briefs on trade remedies: The WTO provides dedicated webpages with information on official meeting documents, reports and member actions on trade remedies. Visit the separate WTO webpages dedicated to anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguards measures.

Where can I access information on national practices?

  • A Business Guide to the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement: The International Trade Centre (ITC) has prepared a guide for policymakers to understand provisions on trade remedies and other areas that expected from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Link to this ITC report.
  • Australia’s International Trade Remedies Advisory Service (ITRA Services): Australia has a government office dedicated to support importers deal with trade remedies by preparing applications for trade remedy investigations, continuation inquiries, duty assessments, and exemptions. Visit this IRTA Services website.
  • European Commission’s Guide on Trade Defence Instruments for Exporters: The European Union offers a guide for exporters to better understand concepts around trade remedies and receive advisory sources on how to manage trade defence investigations. Visit this European Commission guide.
  • European Commission’s Guide on Trade Defence Instruments for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises: The European Commission provides a guide for small businesses on principles, procedures and business support mechanisms related to trade defence instruments used by European Union member states. Visit this European Commission guide.
  • International Trade Centre’s Business Guides to Trade Remedies in Brazil: The International Trade Centre (ITC) offers a guide for businesses to gather relevant information on trade remedy procedures required by Brazil. Visit this ITC guide.
  • International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) of South Africa: ITAC has a Trade Remedies Unit that administers trade remedies instruments by investigating cases of dumping, subsidised imports and surge of imports, in accordance with domestic legislation and consistency with WTO rules. Please visit this ITAC website.
  • Philippines’s Bureau of Import Services: The Philippines government has a dedicated unit where entities that are concerned with unfair market practices can file a trade remedy petition and submit the relevant forms to specified contact points. Visit this Philippines website.