The Need for a United States Countertrade Policy

Oh, Marie J. | January 1, 1985

Countertrade is a form of international trade which involves payment partially or in full with goods rather than with money. It is clearly growing and becoming an increasingly important part of the international business environment. Although many do not prefer to do business through countertrade, trade experts have concluded that world economic conditions have made countertrade a necessary financing mechanism for countries that cannot pay cash for their imports. In order to trade with these countries and to open up new markets in countries with limited resources, United States companies must educate themselves about the advantages and drawbacks of countertrade. Countertrade by United States firms raises a host of legal issues, including the application of United States trade laws, antitrust laws, and other federal regulatory concerns. Countertrade arrangements are subject to the application of United States trade laws. The current official United States government policy is sometimes contradictory. Nevertheless, the Administration’s opposition to countertrade, especially government-mandated countertrade, seems to represent the dominant position.