Unfair foreign pricing and government subsidies distort the free flow of goods and adversely affect American business in the global marketplace. Import Administration, within the International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce, enforces laws and agreements to protect U.S. businesses from unfair competition within the U.S. resulting from unfair pricing by foreign companies and unfair subsidies to foreign companies by their governments. Dumping occurs when a foreign producer sells a product in the United States at a price that is below that producer's sales price in the country of origin ("home market"), or at a price that is lower than the cost of production. The difference between the price (or cost) in the foreign market and the price in the U.S. market is called the dumping margin. Unless the conduct falls within the legal definition of dumping as specified in U.S. law, a foreign producer selling imports at prices below those of American products is not necessarily dumping. Foreign governments subsidise industries when they provide financial assistance to benefit the production, manufacture or exportation of goods.
Subsidies can take many forms, such as direct cash payments, credits against taxes, and loans at terms that do not reflect market conditions. The statute and regulations establish standards for determining when an unfair subsidy has been conferred. The amount of subsidies the foreign producer receives from the government is the basis for the subsidy rate by which the subsidy is offset, or "countervailed", through higher import duties. If a U.S. industry believes that it is being injured by unfair competition through dumping or subsidisation of a foreign product, it may request the imposition of antidumping or countervailing duties by filing a petition with both Import Administration and the United States International Trade Commission. Import Administration investigates foreign producers and governments to determine whether dumping or subsidisation has occurred and calculates the amount of dumping or subsidies.