GAO cites weaknesses in U.S. trade agreement enforcement
A congressional watchdog agency issued a report faulting the U.S. government for improperly monitoring and enforcing trade agreements with other countries.
While federal agencies with trade agreement oversight, namely the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce and States, have taken steps to improve compliance concerns, “weaknesses still exist,” said the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
In specific, the GAO found communications between agency staff in Washington and field posts were inefficient. “Moreover, Commerce staff do not always have access to complete information from overseas posts regarding compliance issues they are working on in those countries,” the GAO said.
GAO acknowledged that agency resources were strained. “For example, officials responsible for monitoring and enforcing trade agreements in all eight overseas posts we visited said that additional training would help them monitor and enforce trade agreements more effectively,” the GAO said.
The GAO recommended that the agencies take steps to improve internal communications and develop a strategy to improve trade compliance training.