The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs were first authorized by Congress in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended, to help workers and firms adjust to import competition and dislocation caused by trade liberalization. Although overall economic welfare can be increased by trade liberalization, TAA has long been justified on grounds that the government has an obligation to help the “losers” of policy-driven trade openings that may cause adjustment problems for firms and workers adversely affected by import competition. TAA programs that cover workers, firms, and farmers aim to “facilitate efforts by the domestic industry to make a positive adjustment to import competition and provide greater economic and social benefits than costs.” Congress continues to monitor TAA program performance and to periodically reauthorize and amend the governing legislation.
This report discusses the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program, which is administered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the Department of Commerce. The TAAF program assists eligible American companies that have been harmed by increasing imports; this harm is defined by lower domestic sales and employment because of increased imports of similar goods and services. Through the TAAF program, EDA provides technical assistance, on a cost-sharing basis, to help eligible businesses create and implement business recovery plans that may allow them to remain competitive in a dynamic international economy. The TAAF program provides technical assistance through a partnership with a national network of 11 EDA-funded Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs).