More Can Be Done To Identify and Help Communities Adjust to Economic Problems Caused by Increased Imports

Gao ID: CED-79-42 May 15, 1979

An attempt was made to assess the impact of imports on local economies and to determine whether public officials and business representatives were aware of community benefits provided under the Trade Act. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the Department of Commerce is responsible for administering adjustment assistance to communities and business firms. Under the Trade Act, communities injured by imports are entitled to a wide range of financial assistance provided under the Public Works and Economic Development Act; however, communities must apply for this assistance.

EDA has not set up a separate program to assist communities that have been injured by imports; therefore, these communities have had to compete with communities having economic problems attributable to other factors, such as natural disasters or closed military installations. The Trade Act also mandated that a trade monitoring system be established to identify communities whose economies are vulnerable to import injury. Limitations in data comparability have hindered the establishment of an effective system. Problems include: differences in classifications between imported and domestically produced products, and insufficient detail in reporting and delays in publishing domestic employment and production statistics. There are also insufficient funds to maintain and refine the system.


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