The primary responsibility for bringing about laws and regulation of international trade policy of the US rests with the Congress. This includes the authority to impose tariffs as well as import quotas and making decisions on whether to enter into negotiations with other nations to create special trade zones.
This responsibility has, over the history of the country, been shared to some extent with the Executive branch of the US but the primary authority still rests with the United States Congress. One of the earliest exercises of authority was with regards to the 1807 Embargo Act which was brought about during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson (Blecker 1996). It was in reaction to British aggression against the Americans during the times of the Napoleonic wars in Europe and aimed to ban international trade with other nations, in an attempt to keep away from the conflict. However, the move proved hard to implement and faced severe opposition leading to the eventual repealing of the Act.
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