Since the first half of the twentieth century, the U.S. Congress has increasingly delegated its authority over tariffs to the U.S. president. Some of these statutes permit private actors to petition for tariff relief. Some also permit the president to initiate an investigation and subsequently to take trade-related or other action when certain criteria are met. Since the 1990s, however, a robust multilateral trading system has required the United States and others to resolve disputes over trade measures in Geneva, rather than through unilateral policy steps under these tariff authorities. In a stark departure from this movement away from unilateral action, the Trump Administration has returned to relying heavily on domestic statutes to impose tariffs on goods imported from U.S. trading partners and on those from one country in particular: China.
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