Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Trade Compliance Center?
The Trade Compliance Center, the TCC, in the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, is the U.S. Government's focal point for monitoring foreign compliance with trade agreements to see that U.S. firms and workers get the maximum benefits from these agreements.
The TCC is your one-stop shop for getting U.S. government assistance in resolving the trade barriers or unfair situations you encounter in foreign markets.
I am a small company and don’t have a Washington office. Can the TCC help me?
Yes, the TCC offers several features for delivering market-access and agreement compliance information and services to small and medium-sized U.S. companies. Using the TCC, you can:
What can the TCC do for me?
If you have a situation in which you believe you are being treated unfairly in a foreign market or if you are encountering a foreign trade barrier that is limiting your ability to export, the TCC can help you. When you contact the TCC, the TCC's staff will examine your problem and will either get to work on it themselves, or will turn to the right specialists in the U.S. government to work on it.
By contacting the TCC, with one e-mail, fax or phone call, you are getting access to the entire trade expertise of the U.S. Government - not only the Commerce Department's country and industry specialists, but also the experts in all other U.S. Government agencies.
You don't have to figure out whom to call or which agency you should contact. The TCC will do that for you, and will follow up to ensure your problem doesn't get lost in Washington. We will call you to let you know who is working on your problem and what progress is being made.
How do I report a Trade Complaint?
You may report a trade problem directly on-line by using our Trade Complaint Hotline or by writing or faxing the TCC with your complaint using the TCC contact information:
I don't know if the situation I am facing is a compliance violation or is even covered by a trade agreement? What do I do?
Contact the TCC anyway. You don't have to be a trade agreement expert. If you believe you are facing an unfair situation, let us know. Our specialists can determine if a trade agreement covers your case. If we believe it does, we will handle it as a compliance complaint. If it does not, the Commerce Department's market access country specialists or industry specialists may be able to help, or some other part of the US. government may be able to help.
I am looking for export assistance or foreign country market information, such as how to find a sales agent, sources of export financing, foreign country market research reports, information about foreign country tariffs and taxes, etc. Can the TCC help?
The Commerce Department can certainly help through its export promotion services, even though the TCC just works on trade complaints and violations of U.S. trade agreements. Commerce has a special Trade Information Center for export counseling and marketing information, and the Commerce Department's Commercial Service has domestic and foreign offices to work directly with you. You can contact them directly, or you can still use our hotline, and we will refer your marketing inquiry to the right people.
How does the TCC try to solve trade barrier problems?
If the TCC, in conjunction with other U.S. government trade experts, believes that the trade barrier problem may be the result of a foreign country failing to live up to an obligation under a trade agreement with the United States, the TCC works through senior U.S. government officials and U.S. embassies to get the foreign government to come into compliance with its agreement. U.S. government experts will assemble the facts and show officials of the other country why we believe the particular instance is not consistent with their agreement.
The Secretary, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and other high-level officials may contact their counterparts in the other country if necessary.
How does the TCC work?
The TCC works by putting together teams of U.S. government trade experts to focus on the trade problems U.S. companies are facing. The first thing the TCC does when it is informed of a problem is to see if one of the about 270 multilateral or bilateral U.S. trade agreements gives the United States some rights in the particular situation. The TCC then utilizes the existing expertise of the appropriate parts of the U.S. government, and seeks to have this expertise work quickly and efficiently to solve the problems.
What happens if the other country does not remove the barrier?
If the compliance process begun by the TCC does not result in resolving the problem, and if the officials of the foreign country cannot be convinced to act positively, then the U.S. government may examine whether we should turn toward active enforcement of our trade rights.
Agreements such as the WTO and NAFTA provide for enforceable dispute settlement. If the TCC is unable to achieve voluntary compliance on the part of the other country, we then turn to USTR's Enforcement Office and seek to have the problem considered for dispute settlement procedures.
What kinds of trade agreements are included in TCC’s Trade and Related Agreements (TARA) database?
The TARA database includes active, binding agreements between the U.S. and its trading partners covering manufactured products and services. The parties to the agreements in TARA are national governments, agencies or inter-governmental organizations.
What kinds of trade agreements are not included in the TARA database?
The TARA database does not include agricultural commodity agreements, Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA) Agreements, Ministerial or Summit statements or Declarations. Exporters who are interested in viewing the texts of agriculture commodity agreements can visit USDA’s Trade Policy website.
How many trade agreements are in TCC’s Trade and Related Agreements (TARA) database?
There are about 270 trade and related agreements in the TARA database.
Does the TCC plan to add more trade agreements in the future?
Yes, as new trade agreements are implemented, they will be added to the TCC website.
What are Exporter’s Guides?
Exporter’s Guides are plain language summaries of various trade agreements aimed especially at small and medium-sized exporters. The Guides tell you how to take advantage of agreement commitments and potential export benefits.
How can I find the most current information that has been added to this website?
The "Recently Added Information" section of this website contains the information that has been recently added and directs the viewer to it. News items are the most frequently updated. For updates on foreign governments’ technical regulations, sign up for “Notify U.S.”
Where can I find information on proposed foreign government technical regulations?
Go to the "Notify U.S." service to receive, via email, notifications of drafts or changes to foreign regulations for a specific industry sector and/or country. You can review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that may affect your business. Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report proposed technical regulations that may affect trade to the WTO Secretariat, who in turn makes them available to all WTO Members. By registering for the Notify U.S. service, you can have these notifications sent directly to you.
Where can I find information on foreign government and international tenders?
TCC provides links to websites containing information on Global Procurement Opportunities.
The TCC offers these agreements electronically as a public service for general reference.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the text presented is complete and accurate.
However, copies needed for legal purposes should be obtained from official archives maintained by the appropriate agency.