William Afred Bailey, 55, a former assistant general counsel and chief of the Federal Trade Commission's expert trade division, died of congestive heart failure Sunday at Northern Virginia Doctors Hospital.

Mr. Bailey was an expert on anti-trust law and foreign commerce. He joined the legal staff of the FTC in 1949 as an examiner in the bureau of investigations. He subsequently served as a trial lawyer in the division, and in 1955, was named special legal assistant to FTC Commissioner Robert T. Secrest.

At his retirement in 1973 for reason of health, he was chief of the expart trade division.

Mr. Bailey was born in Muskogee, Okla., and grew up in Texas. In 1948, he earned a law degree from George Washington University.

He served in the Army in World War II and earned a Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart medal in Italy.

Survivors include his wife, the former Bonniw Cagle, of the home in Arlington; two sons, William, of Manassas, and Robert, of Falls Church; his mother, Lucille, of Tyler, Tex., a brother, Jack, of Pittsburgh, and two grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.