Perspectives on the Jurisprudence of International Trade: Costs and Benefits of Legal Procedures in the United States

In this brief article I will confine myself to an analysis of the U.S. legal system pertaining to regulation of imports, deferring to other works an exploration of similar questions relating to regulation of exports or other international economic activities. First, however, I wish to touch on policies related to the legal structure of international rules for trade. This will help put the subject of this article in broader perspective, and although I will focus on U.S. domestic law measures, it will readily be seen that the international system depends greatly on national legal systems for its efficacy, and that to a lesser extent the national legal system likewise depends on the international system. Most policies of each category of system can apply almost equally in the other category. That is, many of the reasons for a “rule-oriented” approach in the international legal system also apply to a national system, and vice versa. The following sections discuss separately the three questions mentioned above, along with some policy and historical matters, in the context of U.S. import regulation.