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The Obama Administration has no trade policy and, as institutions have been functioning and trade laws have been interpreted for more than a decade, it can’t. The institutions, laws, and regulations of the United States convey control and formulation of trade policy into private hands. Although the Obama Administration might seek to wrest control of trade policy, it has elected to assign trade no priority. Key political appointments have not been made or have neglected to tap trade expertise; initiatives have not been taken in Congress. The President has followed the law, but has not tried to shape it. He has extolled the virtues of free trade, but he has not tried to achieve it. At most, he has resisted attempts to circumscribe it, as much because of the circumstances as out of any conviction.

Most of the important enterprises in China are state-owned. Although there is much the central government does not control, it commands far more of the Chinese economy than the U.S. government can control of the American economy. China has placed a high priority on trade policy, and pursues its trade objectives vigorously.

Unfortunately, much of Chinese trade policy is reactive, and built on misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the actions of others, especially the United States. Were a full trade war to emerge, it would be more the result of incomprehension than of malice.

The Institutions And Laws Of American Trade Policy

The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, empowers Congress to “collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises,” and assigns Congress exclusive authority “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.” Institutionally, authority over international trade belongs to Congress.

Trade policy is formulated in two congressional subcommittees, in the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives and in the Finance Committee of the Senate. These committees operate as all committees of Congress, brokering competing interests of their members. Their members are there to protect the industries, and the jobs they provide, in their respective states. Although in some instances there may be manufacturers who require inputs from abroad, and in some others constituents may produce for foreign markets, for the most part the members focus on what is produced within their states and for a domestic market. Consequently, these committees are inherently protectionist.

Until implementation of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1916, conferring upon Congress “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes,” the primary source of revenue for the United States was duties on foreign goods. At the same time, Congress created in 1916 the Tariff Commission, which was to reexamine and reorganize the incoherent approach to duties that had been funding the government. Thus, American trade policy was founded constitutionally on the collection of revenues from imports, and U.S. laws into the 1930s promoted the collection of revenues and severe limitations on imports, infamously in the Tariff Act of 1930, known as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, that many historians consider to have been a significant contributor to global Depression.

Contemporary trade law in the United States largely reflects a reaction against the fallout of Smoot-Hawley, interpreting international agreements that progressively over a sixty year period liberalized trade by reducing tariffs. Not entirely coincidental was the ability of the United States to finance its government operations with an income tax instead of customs duties. Nonetheless, the framework and apparatus of trade liberalization promoted exceptions and special arrangements to satisfy the legislators constitutionally empowered to regulate foreign commerce. Trade remedy laws tightened as tariffs reduced, supporting a common view that foreigners may “cheat” and export to the U.S. dumped and subsidized goods.

There are three principal U.S. agencies dealing with trade policy. The oldest is a cabinet position in the executive branch of government, the Department of Commerce. The task of the Department of Commerce is to implement the laws on trade passed by Congress. Commerce, therefore, theoretically has no authority to formulate or develop trade policy, which is embodied in congressional statutes. But Commerce does write the regulations that elaborate on and implement statutes. It also interprets the statutes and regulations. Through these two powers – writing regulations, interpreting statutes and regulations — Commerce has more to say about trade policy than any other government agency.

The second is the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which is in the Executive Office of the President. USTR, created initially in 1962, negotiates trade agreements and enforces them, usually but not always through dispute resolution at the World Trade Organization. USTR comes closest to articulating and carrying out the interests of the President in trade, but also answers to Congress.

Finally, the United States International Trade Commission grew out of the Tariff Commission that was created in 1916. Congress in 1954 assigned the Tariff Commission responsibility, which had been in the Department of the Treasury, for determining whether dumping (the antidumping law having been passed in 1921) caused a U.S. industry material injury, a prerequisite for imposing duties arising from unfair trade. Commerce gave the ITC the same responsibility for countervailing duty cases in 1979 following the Tokyo Round of trade negotiations and passage of a new Tariff Act. The ITC is an “independent” agency responsible directly to Congress, not to the executive branch.

The trade laws have three main features: specific tariff reductions and rate-setting; treaties and agreements for trade arrangements, including non-tariff barriers and intellectual property; global capital flows have led often to treatment of trade and investment together such that bilateral investment treaties have become a frequent subject of trade negotiations. Treaties and agreements, nonetheless, are mostly for tariffs but also for preferences and dispute resolution; and trade remedies. Tariff reductions and rate-setting typically follow bilateral or multilateral agreements. They are expressions of policy only to the extent that the United States has defined a policy mutually with other countries. Unilateral trade policy, the choices of the United States without requiring agreement with anyone else, is confined to trade remedies.

Trade Remedy Laws Are Public Policy By Default

The central feature of trade remedy laws in the United States is that private parties decide which merchandise, and from which countries, will be subject to trade remedy actions. Formally, the Department of Commerce has discretion to decide whether to initiate an investigation, but Congress has fashioned the law to make investigations almost inevitable upon the presentation of a petition, provided the petitioner satisfies statutory requirements.

Congress has created offices, in both the Department of Commerce and at the International Trade Commission, to assist domestic industries preparing petitions. Before filing, petitioners typically know whether they have satisfied the requirements and whether the petition will be accepted. These offices exist to help and encourage petitioners. Congress wants the executive branch to protect domestic industries. To that extent, there is a policy, developed by Congress, inscribed in the laws and institutions.

The International Trade Commission conducts a preliminary investigation to decide whether full investigations will follow. The thresholds for this decision, however, again set by Congress, is very low. It is unusual to stop an investigation at the preliminary stage because of the statutory criteria. Once an investigation is fully underway, the market for the goods involved is distorted and there are significant trade effects.

It is also difficult for foreign interests to defeat a petition in the final determination, particularly for non-market economies. The Commerce Department has great flexibility to select surrogate values and find that government prices or domestic costs are below market values or world market prices. Some Chinese products have been found not to cause or threaten material injury to a U.S. industry (a prerequisite finding for trade restrictions), but the considerable majority of petitions result in antidumping and countervailing duty orders.

The Administration has nothing to say about which industries will petition, and not much to say about which petitions will lead to antidumping or countervailing duty orders. Congress keeps a close eye on the progress of petitions and often makes sure that Commerce officials adhere to the law. The inherent biases in the law written by Congress favor petitioners.

Congressmen and senators often testify in public hearings before the International Trade Commission on behalf of their constituent industries. Neither congressmen nor senators testify on behalf of importers or foreign producers. Congress funds the Commission.

To the extent that cumulative trade actions against foreign merchandise can be interpreted as a trade policy, it is in the United States a trade policy by default. Private parties, not the government, take most of the decisions, because they decide which industries or products will be challenged, and they choose the allegations. The law, developed by Congress over many years, generally leads to antidumping and countervailing duty orders. As long as petitioners can satisfy the criteria set out by Congress, they can restrict or interfere with trade.

The Contrast Of Trade Remedies With China

Chinese trade law has a “public interest” clause. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) can decide not to initiate an investigation even when a petition satisfies all legal criteria. The President of the United States has a similar power to prevent the imposition of a trade remedy for policy reasons in intellectual property cases arising under Section 337 of the Tariff Act, but not under provisions of the law for antidumping and countervailing duties.

Chinese officials do use this provision. A petition was filed in the autumn of 2009 seeking antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of wood pulp from Canada. China has a robust paper industry. China does not have, however, abundant commercial forests. It imports wood and other forest products, including substantial quantities of wood pulp. MOFCOM concluded, after an internal inquiry, that it would not be in the public interest to restrict the flow of wood pulp from Canada because, MOFCOM apparently reasoned, it was more important to support the Chinese paper industry than the nascent and inevitably limited wood pulp industry. The investigations, whatever the merits of the petitions may have been, were not initiated.

This option, referring to the public interest, does not exist for American authorities. Hence, China can decide which investigations will be pursued, and which will not. It can choose which industries to protect, and which to leave to market forces even when there may be unfair competition from abroad.

There are also important procedural differences that affect trade remedies as an expression of public policy. In the United States, the filing of a petition is a public event. The International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce alert the public to a new petition as soon as it is filed, and the Department of Commerce has twenty days from the filing to determine whether to initiate an investigation. In a similar time span, the International Trade Commission must convene a public “staff conference” to hear arguments on whether it is likely, should investigations go forward, that it will find material injury or a threat of material injury. Parties must prepare for the staff conference, so everything about the case except confidential, business proprietary information submitted subject to administrative protective orders is public.

The public process of petitioning and launching investigations guarantees that Congress will insure the initial success of a petition satisfying minimal criteria by enabling congressmen to keep track of all developments. Consequently, the ability of private industry to dictate the public policy is assured.

In China, again by contrast, the filing of a petition is confidential and not made public, although MOFCOM officials are known to leak the existence, and often the details, of petitions to select Chinese law firms. Unlike the twenty day fire drill in the United States to challenge the petition at the Department of Commerce and convene a staff conference at the ITC, MOFCOM has sixty days to decide whether to initiate an investigation. Because the filing of the petition is not public, no one can know with any certainty when (or even whether ) a petition has been filed, and so the running of the sixty day clock is entirely in the hands (and knowledge) of MOFCOM.

The very existence of petitioners is also effectively secret in China. Consequently, if MOFCOM were to self-initiate an investigation, it could do so easily in the name of an industry or companies, especially if they were state-owned. MOFCOM put dates and an association name on the receipt and initiation of a countervailing duty investigation into saloon cars from the United States in November 2009, but specific companies in the association were not identified and many international trade observers speculated that the petition was developed at, by, and for MOFCOM.
It may be that the automobile petition should be taken at face value, filed by an association on behalf of an industry. However, the lack of transparency in the Chinese system invites speculation, which cannot happen in the United States. There has been but one Commerce Department self-initiation in U.S. trade history, against softwood lumber from Canada in 1991 (there is disagreement as to whether an antidumping investigation was self-initiated in 1986 against DRAMs). It is certain, because of the transparency of the process, that there have been no others.

In trade remedies, then, the United States cannot have a public policy, as control of the process and the outcomes is in private hands, dictated by Congress to encourage piecemeal protectionism. In China, by contrast, the government can initiate an investigation in the name of an industry, marrying trade policy to industrial policy to favor certain economic sectors. It can decline to investigate in the public interest. Hence, the government can decide what will be investigated and when, which industries it will protect, and which will be exposed to the market, whether fairly or unfairly. Those choices express public policy.

Trade Negotiations And Public Policy

Most observers equate trade policy with the negotiation of trade agreements. The United States, however, does not enter trade negotiations like any other country. The authority to sign a trade agreement is vested constitutionally in the President (Article 2, Section 2), but the regulation of Commerce is the preserve of Congress. Consequently, the President can sign an agreement, but Congress can change it before it is implemented as U.S. law.

Congress historically has changed treaties and agreements signed by the President, or rejected them outright, most famously refusing to join the League of Nations after World War I. Congress also rejected the original international trade organization, concomitant to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (“GATT”) after World War II. The United States came to be known internationally as an unreliable negotiation partner because countries could not count on the signature of the President as the last word for an agreement. Congress could change the terms, or reject the agreement altogether.

To compensate for this problem, Congress agreed to create “fast track” authority, later called by President George W. Bush “trade promotion authority,” whereby Congress could accept or reject a trade agreement signed by the President, but could not change it. The existence of this authority enabled the United States credibly to negotiate trade agreements.

Today, there are three bilateral trade agreements that President Bush negotiated with trade promotion authority but that he failed to present to Congress for an up or down vote before the authority expired. President Obama has not sought and has not received a restoration of this authority. Consequently, Congress has not elected to vote on these agreements, which have been languishing between two and three years.

Without trade promotion authority, the President cannot credibly negotiate trade agreements. The Doha Round stalled over agricultural subsidies in 2008, before the election of President Obama. Today, however, progress is impossible without the engagement of the United States, and the President cannot engage credibly without authority from Congress that he has not received. Consequently, as to trade negotiations, the United States has no policy, and cannot pursue one, because the President does not have effective authority and Congress has chosen not to act on agreements already signed.

China has none of these problems. Its leaders can negotiate with unlimited confidence that their choices will meet with domestic approval. Their negotiating partners know that whatever Chinese leaders sign will be reliable. China, therefore, can fashion a negotiating trade policy: it can decide with whom it wants to reach agreements, and over what, with respect to both specific merchandise and dispute resolution, but also with respect to intellectual property, joint venturing, bilateral and multilateral arrangements, and whatever else may arise in the domain of international commerce. It can, and does, focus as a country on exchanges and agreements that will bring more natural resources to China, and on broader trade issues as well.

The Staffing Problem

When President Obama was first assembling his Cabinet, he asked Congressman Xavier Bercera about becoming his Trade Representative. Congressman Bercera turned down the offer, saying that he did not believe the President was going to assign international trade a high priority. Eventually, President Obama named the Mayor of Dallas, Texas as his trade representative. Ron Kirk’s instincts, like President Obama’s, favor free trade, based on his experience with the value of NAFTA for Texas and Mexico. But no one pretended when he was named that Ambassador Kirk was a trade expert, and conspicuously senior staffing at USTR was done primarily from the congressional trade subcommittees. As befits the history and character of Congress and trade, Ambassador Kirk’s staff was not populated with committed free traders.

To the extent the President might have wanted to pursue freer global trade through new international agreements, he has neither the authority (no trade promotion authority) nor the staff. Congressman Bercera was right in his assessment, and no trade policy has emerged from the Administration. Without congressional authorization and support, moreover, none is possible.
Arguably the most important position in international trade in the United States is not the more visible Trade Representative, but the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Import Administration. The occupant of this position decides in most instances the pursuit of antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, and decides their outcomes. She signs the final determinations with duty rates and with decisions over the countervailability of foreign government programs.

As of June 2010, eighteen months into his Administration, President Obama has not nominated a candidate to fill this politically sensitive policy-making position. The Acting Assistant Secretary is a former Bush Administration official, and the office, therefore, carries over from the Bush years. To the extent a trade policy emerges from the Import Administration of the Commerce Department, the policy was developed by President Bush, not President Obama.

Notwithstanding inclinations toward partisan interpretations that would make Republicans free traders and Democrats protectionists (see Part I of this article), it was President Bush’s Assistant Secretary for the Import Administration who chose to initiate a countervailing duty investigation against non-market economy China and thereby to increase significantly trade restrictions. That decision defined an important element of a trade policy, but conspicuously not of the Administration’s own initiative. Private parties petitioned for countervailing duties against coated free sheet paper from China. The Administration had to decide whether to initiate, or whether to reject the petition. Reactions to private initiatives may constitute cumulatively a trade policy, but by default if not by accident.

Once the judicial process upheld the lawfulness of the countervailing duty investigation in a non-market economy, there was little the Obama Administration could do to change it. Then, too, no Obama official has been named as Assistant Secretary.

The statute governing the ITC requires six commissioners, three from each political party, serving nine-year terms. Nominated by the President, commissioners must be confirmed by the Senate. Often the appointees have served on trade committee staffs in Congress. The confirmation process for them often produces debate over trade policy, but such debates cannot affect policy once appointments have been confirmed. Presidents must make appointments to maintain the partisan balance on the Commission, so cannot necessarily choose a candidate from their own party.

The composition of the Commission often does reflect partisan proclivities, with Republicans more inclined to rely on economic modeling and analysis and Democrats more likely to sympathize with claims of injury. Yet, Democrat Janet Nuzum, as Vice Chair, for example, was far more sensitive to the merits of free trade than some of her Republican colleagues, and Republicans on the current Commission frequently sympathize with domestic industry. Regardless, there is little Congress or the President can do to give the Commission direction because of the nine-year terms, during which the President cannot remove a commissioner.

The United States v. China

The United States pursues trade remedies to the extent, and with reference to particular goods, dictated by private sector initiatives. Occasionally it is possible to articulate a policy, as in accepting petitions alleging countervailable subsidies in non-market economies, but mostly the Administration has little to say and even less that it can do. The Obama Administration has resisted the entreaties of many in Congress to countervail Chinese currency valuation, but Congress could legislate an administrative requirement that would leave the Administration little choice.

Choices typically are few, but there are some. The Bush Administration rejected all safeguard actions against China. The Obama Administration accepted the one safeguard brought before it. It is altogether too easy, however, to misread this difference and the relevant implications. Despite many predictions, no safeguard action has been requested against Chinese merchandise since the case on tires, and the looming expiration of the safeguard provision makes further actions improbable. It would be an exaggeration to claim a policy out of the one case, particularly when paired with the Administration’s persistent position on currency valuation. None of the cases brought to President Bush carried anything like the domestic political implications of the tires case.

The Obama Administration has considered trade policy through tax policy, but essentially because of jobs. Proposals abound to tax heavily the corporate offshoring of jobs, and to expand the uniquely worldwide reach of the U.S. income tax. Such indirect instruments, however, can only hint at a trade policy, and not as a commentary on trade itself.

China seems to see in every trade investigation and in every imposed duty a policy hostile to China. China declared its investigations into chicken parts and automobiles from the United States in November 2009 expressly retaliatory, as if the tires safeguard were deliberately provocative. China read the President’s actions as aimed at China, without acknowledgment of the domestic politics that dominated and constrained his options. Publicly, at least, China also therefore took little note of the nuanced elements of the President’s actions, which were avoiding insult to the head of the National People’s Congress, setting rates that would keep the Chinese industry in business, avoiding excessive publicity for a potentially high-profile action by calibrating an announcement on a weekend. Instead, China decided to make the decision a centerpiece for antagonism, collapsing into the one case an apocalyptic view of U.S. trade policy.

The United States cannot have a coherent trade policy, particularly as to trade remedies. The merchandise in dispute and the allegations to be investigated are all defined by private parties often backed by powerful interest groups capable of delivering or denying votes and campaign resources in a perpetual electoral cycle. Retaliation against imagined trade policies, policies thought to be coherent and deliberate, can have little or no effect in shaping the future. There is no point in China pursuing a retaliatory trade policy because such retaliation cannot change what will happen in trade in the United States. Retaliation would have to anticipate, continuously, the next, most powerful interests seeking trade remedies, an impossible task.

China needs to look more closely at U.S. law and appreciate more presidential constraints where the Constitution delivers all authority over foreign commerce to Congress. It needs to be at the negotiating table when the law calls for negotiation (again, see Trade War?), and it needs to protect its own industries only when facing unfair trade and such protection is in the public interest. A policy based on retaliation, where the recipient of the retaliation (the Administration) cannot react or adjust, is a wasted policy opportunity to no one’s long term advantage.

For the United States, the President could do more to create at least an impression about trade commitments. He could nominate an Assistant Secretary of Commerce. He could ask Congress for trade promotion authority. He could engage seriously the defects in the pending, unratified trade agreements. He could take on the agricultural subsidies that contribute mightily to the deficit, paralyze the Doha Round, and drain the Treasury exceptionally, as in the resolution of the cotton dispute with Brazil by continuing to subsidize the domestic industry and then subsidizing Brazil as well. All these steps together still might not translate into a coherent policy on trade, but they would suggest a President who means what he says when he promises the G-20 to resist protectionism, when he champions an expansion of exports, when he extols the virtues of freedom, whether trading in ideas, or in goods.
 

        奥巴马政府没有贸易政策,但是因为美国体系和贸易法早在十多年前就已建立,所以不可能拥有。美国的这一体系、法律和规定导致商业团体控制、制定贸易政策。虽然奥巴马政府可能希望获得控制贸易政策的权利,但是贸易并不是奥巴马政府的重要事项。奥巴马政府至今尚未任命所有主管贸易的政府高管,也并不重视任命经验丰富的贸易专家,国会也没有主动采取措施。奥巴马总统履行法律,但并未试图改革法律。他歌颂自由贸易的益处,但是并未努力实现自由贸易。他最大的努力是抵制企图阻碍自由贸易的行动。

         国有企业在重要中国企业中占很大比重。虽然北京政府并不掌管中国经济生活的各个层面,但它的影响力远远超过美国政府对美国经济的影响。中国给予贸易政策重要地位,并努力实现贸易目标。

         令人遗憾的是中国贸易政策大多是反射型政策,同时建立在对他国政策的错误理解基础之上,尤其是对美国政策的错误理解。如果贸易战真的发生,那是因为错误的理解而非出于恶意。

美国贸易政策体系及法律
        美国宪法第一章第八条授权国会“征收税、关税及企业所得税”,同时给予国会特权“管理对外贸易”。从体制角度着眼,美国国会拥有管理国际贸易的权力。

        大国会委员会负责制定贸易政策:众议院筹款委员会参议院金融委员会。这两大委员会与其他国会委员会的运作方式相同——在不同成员相互竞争的利益间寻找平衡点。委员会成员保护本州产业及这些产业内的就业机会。虽然有时生产商可能需要国外原材料,另一些选区内的企业为国外市场生产,但是委员会成员关注的重点是州内生产的产品及国内市场。因此,这两大委员会与生俱来是贸易保护主义者。

        1916年实施的宪章第6条修正案给予国会“征收收入所得税”,在此之前美国的主要财政收入是向进口品征收关税。国会在同一年建立了关税委员会试图重新考察、改革不统一的税收制度。由此可见,美国贸易政策的宪法渊源是向进口品征收关税,许多历史学家认为1930年关税法案(亦称为斯姆特-霍利关税法)导致全球经济大萧条进一步恶化。

        当前美国贸易法是对斯姆特-霍利关税法影响的反应,解读六十年来通过降低关税不断开放贸易的国际贸易协定。与此同时却并不完全巧合的是,美国政府可依赖收入所得税、而非关税支付政府开支。但是,贸易自由化框架催生了使立法者根据宪法行使管理国际贸易的权利以外的特例。贸易补偿法随着关税降低而不断紧缩,支持公众持有的外国人可能不诚实地向美国倾销或是出售享受补助的产品。

        三大美国机构执行贸易政策。历史最悠久的是内阁级的美国商务部。美国商务部的职责是实施国会通过的贸易法。因此,根据宪法,商务部没有权力制定发展贸易政策。但是商务部起草阐述、实施贸易法的规定,同时拥有解释法律、规定的权力。通过这两大权力——制定规定、阐述法规规定——商务部是政府部门中对贸易政策最具影响的部门。

        第二个政府部门是美国贸易代表办公室,它是总统办公室的一部分。贸易代表办公室与1962年成立,通常通过、但不总是通过世贸组织谈判实施贸易协定。贸易代表办公室最清晰地代表总统意见,但不总是对国会负责。

        最后是美国国际贸易委员会,它的前身是1916年建立的关税委员会。国会于1954年授权关税委员会取代美国财政部裁定倾销(反倾销法于1921年通过)是否造成美国产业受损,产业受损是征收反倾销税的前提。东京会谈结束后,国会于1979年通过新关税法,同时授权国际贸易委员会在反补贴调查中担任相同职责。国际贸易委员会直接向国会汇报,而非对总统负责。

        贸易法具有三大重点:关税制定或减免;包括非关税障碍及知识产权在内的贸易协定;全球资金流通催生了双边投资协定。协定主要涉及关税、但也包括优惠政策和争端解决及贸易补偿。关税减免及设定通常通过双边或多边协定决定。只有当美国和其他国家携手确定政策后,这些协定才形成政策。美国未经与他国的协商而制定的单边贸易政策只能称为贸易补偿。

贸易补偿法系公共政策
        美国贸易补偿法的主要特征是商业团体决定哪国出口的哪些商品面临贸易补偿行动。美国商务部决定是否展开调查,但是国会制定的法律规定一旦递交的调查申请书满足法律规定,商务部不得不展开调查。

        国会规定美国商务部和国际贸易委员会设立办公室帮助本土企业准备申请书。在正式递交申请书之前,申请方一般知道他们是否满足法律规定、以及申请书是否会被接受。这些办公室的设立是为了帮助、鼓励调查申请。国会希望行政部门保护本国企业。从这一角度着眼,国会的确发展了一政策,并将其包括在法律和体制之中。

        美国国际贸易委员会进行一简单调查以确定是否应展开全面调查。但是国会设订了是否展开全面调查的标准,并将标准设得很低。因此,国际贸易委员会很难在初始阶段就终止调查。当调查全面展开时,这一产品市场将受影响并导致严重贸易后果。

        同时以非市场经济体为代表的国外利益也很难在最后阶段挫败申请。美国商务部可任意选择第三国价值、裁定销售价格低于市场价格或全球市场价格。某些中国产品被裁定未造成美国产业损害或形成威胁(这是限制贸易的前提条件),但是大多数申请书以反倾销、反补贴税令告终。

        政府不能决定哪一产业递交申请书,也不能确定哪些申请书将以反补贴、反倾销令告终。国会密切关注调查并确保商务部官员遵守法律。国会制定的法律总是偏向申请方。

        参众两院议员经常代表选区的企业参加美国国际贸易委员举行的公开听证会上并作证发言。没有议员代表进口商或是国外生产企业发言。国会向国际贸易委员提供财政拨款。

        如果不断积累的贸易行动可被解释为贸易行动,那么美国拥有贸易政策。商业团体而非政府具有发言权,因为它们决定哪些产业的哪些产品面临贸易行动、并决定指控。美国国会多年来制定的法律通常导致反倾销、反补贴令。只要申请人可以满足国会设立的标准,他就可以限制或影响贸易。

中美贸易补偿的差别
         中国贸易法包括“公众利益”一款。即使申请书满足所有法律条件,但是中国商务部可决定不展开调查。在根据贸易法337款展开的知识产权调查中,美国总统具有同等权利、可出于政治考虑不采取贸易补偿行动,但是反倾销、反补贴法中没有类似条款。

        中国官员也使用这一条款。2009年秋的一份申请书要求对加拿大纸浆展开反倾销、反补贴调查。中国造纸业发达,但却没有丰富的商业森林资源,因此必须进口包括木材、纸浆在内的林业产品。中国商务部内部研究后认定限制加拿大纸浆进口将不符合公众利益,因为支持中国造纸产业比支持规模有限的纸浆产业更重要。因此,虽然申请书可能十分令人信服,但是商务部却未展开调查。

        美国政府却没有公众利益这一选择。中国可选择对哪些申请展开调查、或不展开调查;保护哪些产业、或让市场力量左右其他产业的命运,即使这些产业面临不公平的国外贸易竞争。

         程序差别也影响贸易补偿这一贸易政策。在美国,递交申请书是公开事件。美国国际贸易委员会和美国商务部接到申请后将立即通知公众,同时商务部将在20天内做出是否展开调查的决定。在几乎相等的时间内,国际贸易委员会必须召开工作会议以探讨如果展开调查,是否会发现该进口品对美国产业造成损害或损害威胁。涉案方必须为这一工作会议作准备,公众可查阅除受法律保护的、含商业机密的文件以外的任何文件。

        递交申请书、展开调查的公开化可保证国会可跟踪案件发展、监督这一初始程序满足国会设立的较低标准。因此,商业团体左右公共政策得以实现。

        与此相反,在中国递交申请在秘密状态中进行,但是中国商务部官员时常向中国律师事务所泄露有关信息乃至细节。美国政府机构只有20天时间决定是否展开调查,但是中国商务部拥有长达60天的时间考虑是否展开调查。因为申请书是秘密递交的,因此没有人可以确切了解申请书是否被递交、何时被递交,因此这60天时间完全在中国商务部掌控之中。

        在中国,申请人也属于机密。因此,如果商务部希望展开一调查,它可以以某一产业或是企业的名义(尤其是国有企业的名义)递交申请。2009年11月,中国商务部把某一行业协会的名字放在要求对美产越野车和小汽车展开反补贴调查的申请书上,但是却没有该协会成员企业的任何信息。因此很多国际贸易观察家猜测这份申请书的作者其实是中国商务部。

        或许我们应当相信这份申请书的确是代表该产业的行业协会递交的。但是,因为中国的体制缺少透明度所以引来种种猜测,这在美国不会发生。迄今为止,美国贸易史上仅有一起自发调查——1991年针对加拿大软木(也有人认为1986年针对动态随机存取存储器展开的反倾销调查也是自发调查,但人们对这一观点存在争议)。但是因为美国的体制透明,所以可以肯定的一点是没有其他自发调查。

        由于商业团体控制贸易调查过程和结果、国会鼓励保护主义,所以美国不可能拥有贸易补偿政策。与其相反,中国政府可以以产业界名义展开调查,将贸易政策和工业政策相结合鼓励某些经济产业的发展。它可以公众利益的名义拒绝展开调查。因此,政府可决定于何时对哪一产业展开调查、哪一产业应受保护、哪一产业应面临公平或是不公平的市场挑战。这些选择是政策的表现。

贸易谈判和公共政策
        许多观察家把贸易政策等同于贸易协定谈判。但是美国与其他国家的贸易谈判很不相同。根据宪法,总统与他国签订贸易协定,国会负责管理贸易。因此,总统可以签订协定,但是国会可以在制定实施该协定的法律时修改这一协定。

         回顾历史,国会曾修改总统签订的协定,甚至拒绝接受这些协定,最著名的例子是拒绝加入一次世界大战后成立的国联。国会也拒绝国际贸易组织,这是二战后成立的关贸总协定前身。在国际舞台上,美国被视为不可靠的谈判伙伴,因为美国总统的签字并不具有最后发言权。国会可修改某些条款,乃至拒绝这一协定。

        为修正这一弊病,美国国会授予总统“快速通道”权利,在小布什总统任内被称为“促进贸易权利”。根据这一授权,国会可以接受或拒绝总统签署的贸易协定,但不可以改变。这一授权使美国参与国际协定谈判时更具信服力。

        布什总统根据促进贸易权力谈判了三份双边贸易协定,但却未能在该权利过期前递交国会投票表决。奥巴马总统并未寻求、也未得到这一授权。因此,虽然这三个协定早在两三年前就已达成,国会至今尚未就这三个协定投票。

        没有促进贸易权利,总统无法在贸易谈判中施展影响。2008年,在奥巴马总统就任前,多哈会谈因农业补助而停滞不前。但是今天因为缺少美国参与而无法前进,而总统因为没有国会授权也无法推动谈判。因此,在贸易谈判领域美国没有政策,也无法制定政策,因为总统没有授权、国会决定不对已经签署的协定采取行动。

        中国没有这些问题。中国领导人在谈判时充满信心,确信协定将得到国内支持。他们的谈判伙伴也深知中国领导人签署的协定是可信的。因此,中国在贸易谈判中可制定政策:它可确定签署协议的伙伴国家、就哪些事项(如产品或是争端、知识产权、合资企业、双边及多边协定等国际商贸的其他领域)进行谈判。它可针对、且已经通过谈判协定,确保更多资源流向中国、以及更广泛的贸易议题。

成员任命问题
        当奥巴马总统刚刚组建内阁时,他邀请议员Xavier Bercera担任国际贸易代表。但是Bercera议员婉言拒绝了邀请,指出他不相信总统将把国际贸易视为重点。最后,奥巴马总统任命德州达拉斯市市长柯克(Ron Kirk)为贸易代表。从他对《北美自由贸易协定》的态度来看,柯克和奥巴马总统一样倾向自由贸易。但没有人试图掩盖他并不是贸易专家这一事实,而贸易代表办公室的主要职务也都被曾在国会贸易委员会任职的工作人员所担任。从国会历史及特征来看,柯克大使的主要官员并不支持自由贸易。

          即使总统可能希望通过新的国际协定支持自由贸易发展,他既没有权利也没有官员推动这一使命。Bercera议员的判断是正确的,奥巴马政府至今尚未制定新的贸易政策。没有国会支持和授权,他也不可能制定新政策。

         美国最重要的贸易官员可能不是贸易代表,而是主管进口事务的商务部助理部长。担任这一职务的官员决定是否展开反倾销、反补贴调查及调查结果。他签署调查决定,包括反倾销、反补贴税率。

         至2010年6月,即奥巴马总统就职18个月后,总统仍没有任命这一重要而敏感的政策决定职务。布什任命的官员担任执行助理部长一职,因此该办公室仍然延续布什政府政策。如果说美国商务部进口事务办公室制定贸易政策,那么这一政策是布什总统、而非奥巴马总统制定的。

          本文第一部分提到,传统印象中,共和党人支持自由贸易、民主党人多为贸易保护主义者。但是是布什总统的助理商务部部长决定对非市场经济中国展开反补贴调查,以增强贸易限制。这一决定确定了贸易政策的重要组成部分,但是并不是行政部门主动提出的。商业团体递交申请书要求对中国铜版纸展开反补贴调查。行政部门面临是否展开调查的抉择。就商业团体的决定做出反应可被视为贸易政策,但更多出于偶然。

         旦司法程序认定对非市场经济体展开反补贴调查合法,奥巴马政府就不能采取其他行动。同时,他也没有任命助理贸易部长。

         主管国际贸易委员会的法律规定该委员会由民主党和共和党各派3人共6人担任委员,任期9年。委员由总统提名,必须经参议院审核批准。很多委员曾在国会贸易委员会任职。参议院的审核过程常常是贸易政策的辩论会,但是一旦他们得到任命,这些辩论将不再影响贸易政策。总统的任命必须保持两党平衡,因此不可随意从自己的党派中选派一人担任委员。

         该委员的确也反映其党派倾向,共和党人更喜爱使用经济模型分析,而民主党人更同情产业受损的指控方。但是也不完全这样,例如担任副主席一职的民主党人Janet Nuzum比她的共和党同事更注重自由贸易的益处;现在3名共和党委员很同情本土产业。无论如何,因为委员任期长达9年,总统和国会都无法影响委员会政策,因为一旦任命,总统不能解除委员职务。

美国与中国对垒
         美国针对特定产品采取贸易补偿的程度为商业团体所左右。偶尔,政府可以制定政策,如接受针对非市场经济体展开反补贴调查的申请书,但总体来说政府没有太大发言权更不用说发挥作用了。奥巴马政府极力抵制国会要求中国货币升值的压力,其实国会可通过立法要求政府采取措施使政府没有回旋余地。

         选择很少,但并不是没有。布什政府拒绝了所有针对中国的贸易保障措施。奥巴马政府批准了一项贸易保障措施。和许多预测不同,轮胎案并没有引发更多针对中国产品的保障措施;随着这一条款即将失效,可能性也越来越小。仅从一个案件提出政府具有某一政策显然有些夸大其词,尤其结合奥巴马政府在货币政策上的坚定立场。布什总统任期内的任何一个案件都不及轮胎案件产生的政治影响。

         奥巴马政府考虑通过税收政策影响贸易政策,但主要是为了创造就业机会。新建议将向海外输送就业机会的企业征收高额税收,同时将美国的收入所得税标准衍生至海外。这些间接措施只能显示贸易政策,而非阐明贸易政策。

        但是中国却将每一项贸易调查和裁决视为针对中国的敌意政策。中国明确声称2009年11月针对美国鸡肉及汽车零部件展开的调查是针对轮胎案的报复性措施,中国认为轮胎特保案旨在挑衅中国。中国没有考虑美国国内主导、限制奥巴马总统的政治情况,相反却认为总统针对中国采取行动。至少在公开场合中国未对总统决定的细节稍加注意,例如选择恰当的宣布时间、设法不让访美的全国人大主席尴尬;策略性地设置税率使中国产品仍可出口至美国;在周末宣布决定以避免引发媒体的过分关注。然而,中国决定将这一裁决视为敌意的核心表现、美国贸易政策的集中表现。

        美国不可能拥有持久统一的贸易政策,尤其在贸易补偿领域。受调查产品及指控都是商业团体的大作,他们背后有强大的利益集团的支持,这些利益集团可在选举中提供或减少选票及竞选资金。误认为美国具有持久的贸易政策、并报复想象中的贸易政策不可能对未来产生影响。中国的贸易报复政策没有任何意义,因为它不可能影响对美贸易。报复应当是针对将来最有可能展开的贸易调查持续采取行动。

        中国应当更仔细地研究美国法律,了解宪法给予国会更多权力控制对外贸易、限制美国总统。中国应当根据美国法律在适当的时候参与谈判,只有在本国企业面临不正当竞争时才保护本国产业,且保护符合公共利益。建立在报复基础上的政策浪费政策机会、有损长期利益,尤其当被针对的国外政府无法做出回应。

         对于美方而言,总统至少应当给外界留下尊重承诺的印象。他可任命助理商务部部长。他可要求国会重新给予贸易促进权利。他可努力改变尚未得到国会批准的双边贸易协定带来的弊病。他可通过改革农业补助推动瘫痪的多哈会谈,这也有助于减少政府财政赤字。在和巴西的棉花补助争端中,或许也可向巴西棉农提供补助。这些步骤加在一起可能仍不能显示美国具有统一协调的贸易政策,但是至少可显示总统说到做到:努力实现在G-20高峰会上做出的抵制贸易保护主义的承诺、努力扩大出口、真心实意的支持商品和思想的自由流通。