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Zimmerman's Research Guide


International Trade

To get acquainted with the major U.S. trade treaties, see Trade Law: An Introduction to Selected International Agreements and U.S. Laws (June 29, 2010) by the Congressional Research Service. To learn more international trade law, see the books referenced in the Georgetown Law Library's list of International Trade Treatises.

Global Trade Information Services database provides extensive data on international trade, covering over two dozen major countries. However, the reports are pricey, so you may want to consider less expensive alternatives, such as the Web sites listed below in this entry.

U.S. world trade data is available from the St. Louis Fed's FRED database, the Census Bureau's USA Trade Online and Foreign Trade sites, the International Trade Administration, International Trade Center and the International Trade Commission's International Tariff and Trade Dataweb.

Lexis has an EXPORT library, which includes the Dun & Bradstreet Export Encyclopedia (DBEXEN) and a list of people and companies denied U.S. import/export licenses (DENIED).

PIERS provides extensive information on U.S. and international shipping trade. PIERS is particularly known for their Trade Profiles provides on significant import/export companies. You can search for and purchase Trade Profiles through Piers.com. Similar information is available through Panjiva (which has historical data back to 2007) and ImportGenius.com (which has historical data back to November 2006).

To identify U.S. companies -- or companies in a particular U.S. state or region -- doing business in a particular foreign country, look in the Directory of American Firms Operating In Foreign Companies, in print or online, from Uniworld. You could also contact the U.S. Embassy in the relevant country and ask if they have a list.

To identify importers or export companies located in a state or region, use Piers.com and/or the D&B Million Dollar Directory (the Advanced Search lets you select "Importer," "Exporter" or both).

To identify foreign companies doing business in the U.S. or in a particular U.S. state, use the Directory of Foreign Firms Operating in the United States, in print or online, from Uniworld.

Useful online resources for international trade include:

  1. The U.S. Commerce Department's Market Research Library, which provides reports on U.S. exports by industry and country;
  2. Lex Mercatoria
  3. International Trade Administration
  4. Export-Import Bank of the United States
  5. The United States International Trade Commission, which allows you to search filings through EDIS, the Electronic Document Information System
  6. The U.S. International Trade Commission's Tariff Information Center, which includes the current Harmonized Tariff Schedule
  7. The U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Statistics page
  8. The NTIS Business Collection, where you can buy U.S. government reports and other publications.
  9. The U.S. International Trade Commission posts the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.
  10. The European Union posts Trade Issues pages discussing EU foreign trade policy. The Bilateral Trade Relations section provides data on EU trade with specific countries.
  11. The U.S. International Trade Library on HeinOnline contains a large collection of International Trade Commission materials and international trade-related legislative histories (by subscription only).
  12. The "International" section of Globalex has guides for researching a number of trade agreements including NAFTA, CAFTA, APEC, Asean, ECOWAS, CEMAC and MERCOSUR.
  13. For more sources, see the Georgetown Law Library's International Trade Law Research Guide.

Customs: Following are some resources I have found useful for customs law research.

  1. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP; formerly the U.S. Customs Service) websites posts U.S. import and export rules, particularly the Legal Decisions/Publications page.

  2. The Customs Rulings Online Search System (CROSS) database provides selected U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection rulings (1989-present).

  3. The CUSTOMS Info database contains more US rulings than CROSS as well as EU rulings and WCO Explanatory Notes (subscription only).

  4. Trade and Customs (from the Getting the Deal Through series) summarizes customs rules of a dozen trade organizations including the WTO, WCO, TPP, NAFTA, Mercosur, the European Union and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

  5. The International Trade Today covers new U.S. "Federal rules and regulations for trade and customs professionals."

Export Controls: To get a grip on U.S. export controls, check out the current edition of Coping with U.S. Export Controls, a PLI Course Handbook in the Commercial Law series. See the Practicing Law Institute entry for options on obtaining PLI content. For more, see the "United States" chapter of the Export Control Law and Regulations Handbook: A Practical Guide to Military and Dual-Use Goods, Trade Restrictions and Compliance (Aspen) and/or Corporate Counsel's Guide to Economic Sanctions and Embargoes (ThomsonReuters/West).

See also the materials posted by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (including the Introduction to Commerce Department Export Controls), the State Department's Directorate of Defense Controls (which is responsible for the International Traffic in Arms Regulations or "ITAR"), the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Controls and any other relevant agencies.

Note: The International Traffic in Arms Regulations or "ITAR" are published at 22 C.F.R. Chapter 1, Subchapter M, Parts 120-130. An annotated edition with practice tips by called Bartlett's Annotated ITAR ("the BITAR") by James Ellwood Bartlett III is available from Full Circle Compliance.

For other countries, the Export Control Law and Regulations Handbook: A Practical Guide to Military and Dual-Use Goods, Trade Restrictions and Compliance (Aspen) has chapters on China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. You may also want to see also information on the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international agreement "on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual Use Goods and Technologies." The Trade and Customs volume from the Getting the Deal Through series lists the major sanctions and embargoes put in place by the countries covered.

See Also
Bureau of Industry and Security
Doing Business in Foreign Countries
Foreign Laws
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
International Law
North American Free Trade Agreement
Treaties - Foreign
Treaties - U.S.
United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods
United States Court of International Trade
World Trade Organization

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman