August 29 2012 Issue
New Safety Standard to be Developed for High-Powered Magnet Sets
The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted Aug. 24 to propose a new mandatory federal safety standard for small, high-powered magnet sets. Many of these sets are marketed as sculptures, puzzles and stress relievers and are labeled not for use by children. However, CPSC staff believes these sets have strong appeal to children and pose a potential for high-severity injuries because if swallowed they can link together inside a child's intestines and clamp onto body tissues, causing intestinal obstructions, perforations, sepsis and death.
According to Commissioner Nancy Nord, the CPSC’s proposed rule “amounts to a ban on all magnet sets sold today.” A CPSC press release explains that this rule would set performance requirements for magnet sets based on their size and strength. Specifically, magnets that fit in a small parts tester would be required to have a flux index of 50 or less, whereas many of the high-powered magnets in the sets sold today are many times stronger. Magnet sets that do not meet the performance requirement could not be sold as a manipulative or desk toy.
The proposed rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register in about a week and will be open for comments until early November.
Commissioner Nord, a frequent critic of CPSC action under the current Democratic majority, said that while she voted to proceed with this rulemaking she is “not convinced” that it “best reduces or eliminates the hazard while minimizing disruption to manufacturing and commerce.” She asserted that this proposal “proceeds on the belief that warnings do not work” and cautioned that “the long-term policy implications stemming from the rationale for the proposed ban on other products subject to warnings have not been explored but are presented by this rulemaking.” She also expressed concern that the proposed standard “may be overly broad” because it “includes products that have not been demonstrated to pose the same risk” as the magnet sets that have been subject to enforcement action in recent months.
Safety Standard on Play Yards Finalized, Proposed Rule Addresses Bassinet Accessories
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a final rule establishing a new safety standard on play yards. The CPSC is also proposing to amend this standard to address hazards associated with the use of bassinet accessories.
Final Rule. The new regulations will be effective as of Feb. 28, 2013, and will apply to all play yards manufactured or imported on or after that date. They incorporate ASTM F 406-11a, “Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Non-Full-Size Baby Cribs/Play Yards,” which defines a play yard as a framed enclosure that includes a floor, has mesh or fabric sided panels, and may fold for storage or travel. Play yards are primarily intended to provide a play or sleeping environment for children who are less than 35 inches tall and cannot climb out. Some play yards include attachable accessory items such as mobiles, toy bars, canopies, bassinets and changing tables.
Once in effect this rule will make it unlawful for anyone to manufacture, distribute or import into the U.S. a play yard that is not in conformity with the standard. Manufacturers will have to certify the conformity of play yards with this standard based on testing conducted by a CPSC-accepted third-party conformity assessment body. However, this requirement will not be in effect until the CPSC issues a final notice of requirements describing how third-party conformity assessment bodies can become accepted to test play yards to the new standard. A proposed NOR for play yards was published May 24, 2012. When the NOR is final, third-party conformity assessment bodies can apply to the CPSC for acceptance of their accreditation to test play yards, and play yard manufacturers will be required to certify products to the new standard based on third-party testing once the accreditation of such laboratories has been accepted.
Proposed Rule. The CPSC is also proposing to amend the new mandatory play yard standard to address the hazards associated with the use of bassinet accessories that can be assembled with missing key structural elements. Comments on this proposed rule are due no later than Nov. 13.
Most bassinet accessories consist of a fabric shell that is attached to the side rails of the play yard and is supported by rods, tubes, bars or hooks. The segmented mattress pad that is used on the floor of the typical play yard is inserted into the bassinet shell.
Under this proposed rule a bassinet accessory would meet the safety requirement if all of its key structural elements are attached permanently. If a manufacturer chose not to permanently attach these elements each would have to be removed from the bassinet and individually tested to ensure that its omission results in catastrophic failure.
AD/CV Notices: Bedroom Furniture, Candles, Cookware, Pipe, Aluminum Extrusions
Agency: International Trade Administration.
Commodity: Wooden bedroom furniture.
Nature of Notice: Rescission of administrative review of antidumping duty order for the period Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2011.
Agency: International Trade Administration.
Nature of Notice: List of rulings on the scope of antidumping and countervailing duty orders on the following products that were completed between April 1 and June 30, 2012.
- petroleum wax candles from China (AD)
- porcelain-on-steel cooking ware from China (AD)
- circular welded carbon quality steel pipe from China (AD/CV)
- aluminum extrusions from China (AD/CV)
Trade in Renewable Energy Services to be Examined by ITC
The International Trade Commission has launched an investigation into trade and market trends in the renewable energy services sector. In its request for this investigation the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative noted that since the publication of the ITC’s last report in 2005 the U.S. and global markets for such services have undergone significant change. Technological improvements and decreasing prices have led to rapid demand growth, particularly in the wind and solar power segments, while changes in government incentive programs have created uncertainty regarding the future of the renewable energy market.
The ITC’s report, which it expects to deliver to USTR by June 28, 2013, will do the following.
- define types of renewable energy and related services, identify leading suppliers, and generally describe the relationship of renewable energy services to the development of renewable energy projects worldwide
- estimate the size of the U.S. and global markets for certain renewable energy services, identify key export and import markets for such services, and describe factors affecting supply and demand
- examine U.S. and global renewable energy services trade during 2007-2011 and highlight recent trends in investment in renewable energy projects and firms, including new business strategies or practices
- identify barriers to U.S. trade and investment in renewable energy services and examine recent efforts to liberalize trade in leading markets for such services
- examine the role of clean energy incentive programs in encouraging investment in and creating markets for renewable energy goods and services
The ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with this investigation on Nov. 29. Requests to appear at this hearing are due no later than Nov. 15. Written submissions for the record should be submitted no later March 1.
FTZ Board Considers Expanding Georgia Zone, Approves Larger Puerto Rico Zone
The Foreign-Trade Zones Board is accepting comments through Sept. 28 on an amended application from the Georgia Foreign-Trade Zone Inc., grantee of FTZ 26, seeking to expand its service area under the alternative site framework to include the entirety of Columbia County, Ga.
The FTZ Board has also approved an application from the Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company to expand FTZ 61 to include a site in Aguadilla, P.R., adjacent to the San Juan U.S. Customs and Border Protection port of entry.
Labor Dept. Reviewing Information Collection on Import/Export Price Indexes
The Department of Labor is accepting through Sept. 28 comments on the proposed extension of an information collection entitled “International Price Program U.S. Export and Import Price Indexes.” Price data collected by the International Price Program is used to produce indexes that measure, on a monthly basis, changes in transaction prices of goods and services exported from or imported into the U.S. This published data is used to deflate import and export trade statistics, deflate the foreign trade component of the gross domestic product, determine monetary and fiscal policy, negotiate trade agreements, and determine trade and commercial policy. The respondents are establishments conducting import/export trade.
Comments are sought on whether this information collection is necessary for the proper performance of the department’s functions, ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information collected, the accuracy of the estimated burden of the collection and ways to minimize that burden.
Monthly Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Down 1.4% in June
U.S. monthly surface transportation trade in goods with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico fell 1.4% in June, according to statistics released Aug. 28 by the Department of Transportation. However, the June total of $82.6 billion was up 6.6% from a year before. Over the last ten years total surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico has risen 79%, including a 90.8% gain for exports and a 69.7% increase for imports.
Surface transportation includes freight movements by truck, rail, pipeline, mail, foreign-trade zones and other modes and in June accounted for 87.7% of U.S. trade by value with Canada and Mexico. Surface trade between the U.S. and Canada totaled $48.4 billion, up 0.6% from May and 5.0% from the year before. Exports climbed 1.2% for the month and 7.5% from the previous June, while imports saw a 0.03% monthly drop but a 2.7% gain year-on-year. U.S.-Mexico surface transportation trade totaled $34.2 billion, down 4% from May but up 8.8% from the previous year. Exports fell 4.6% and imports dropped 3.6% for the month, but both categories saw increases from May 2011 (8.0% and 9.5%, respectively).
Import Restrictions Lifted on Bigeye Tuna from Bolivia and Georgia
The Department of Commerce has issued a final rule that, effective Sept. 28, will lift the restrictions on imports of bigeye tuna from Bolivia and Georgia. This rule also updates the Harmonized Tariff Schedule numbers for Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Bluefin tuna, swordfish, frozen bigeye tuna and shark fins, which must be reported on required trade documentation, to be consistent with recent changes adopted by the International Trade Commission.
The import restrictions were imposed in 2004 after the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas adopted binding measures for ICCAT parties to prohibit imports of Atlantic bigeye tuna and its products from Bolivia and Georgia to address illegal, unreported and unregulated catches of tuna (especially bigeye tuna) by large-scale Bolivian and Georgian longline vessels. However, at its 2011 meeting the ICCAT adopted a policy requiring parties to lift those restrictions as soon as possible after determining that the actions of Bolivian and Georgian vessels no longer diminish the effectiveness of the organization’s conservation and management measures. However, the DOC notes that there were no imports of Atlantic bigeye tuna from these countries prior to the implementation of the prohibitions and that it does not expect such imports in the future.
Foreign Regulatory Changes Could Affect Exports of Fertilizer, Cement, Steel, TVs
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the World Trade Organization has been notified of regulatory changes that may affect exports of specific products to the following countries. For information on how these restrictions may affect your business, contact ST&R.
Georgia – revised rules on certification of aviation cargo terminals
Indonesia – revised standards on fertilizers, cement, concrete steel bar, zinc-coated steel sheet, rubber hoses, zinc aluminum coated sheet and coil steel, melamine products (food and drink appliances), water pumps, electrical irons, cathode ray tubes, steel wire of pre-stressed concrete, and profile steels.