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New Legislation on Trade Sanctions, Expanded GSP, Nicaraguan Apparel, Product Safety

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Textile and Apparel Articles. The GSP Update for Production Diversification and Trade Enhancement Act (S. 1839) would make certain luggage and travel articles eligible for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences, which expired last summer but is likely to be reauthorized sometime this year. (introduced Dec. 17 by Sen. Begich; referred to the Senate Committee on Finance)

The Extending Incentives for Exporting American Textiles Act (S. 1883) would extend duty-free treatment for certain trousers, breeches or shorts imported from Nicaragua. (introduced Dec. 20 by Sen. Hagan; referred to the Senate Committee on Finance)

Product Safety. S. 1887 would clarify the terms of cooperation between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and foreign government agencies to improve the safety of imported products. (introduced Dec. 20 by Sen. McCaskill; referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation)

Trade Sanctions. The Trade and Environment Enforcement Act (H.R. 3733), also known as the Green 301 Act, would expand the Section 301 provisions of the 1974 Trade Act to help prevent practices by other countries that cause negative environmental impacts to human, animal or plant life or health or prevent the conservation of exhaustible natural resources domestically or internationally. Specifically, this bill would allow the U.S. to impose penalties, including higher tariffs, on countries that (a) fail to effectively enforce their environmental laws, (b) waive or otherwise derogate from their environmental laws or weaken the protections afforded by such laws, (c) fail to provide for judicial or administrative proceedings giving access to remedies for violations of their environmental laws, (d) fail to provide appropriate and effective sanctions or remedies for violations of their environmental laws, or (e) fail to effectively enforce environmental commitments in agreements to which they and the U.S. are a party. (introduced Dec. 12 by Rep. Blumenauer; referred to House Ways and Means Committee)

Digital Goods. The Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act (H.R. 3724) would ensure that digital goods and services, like those purchased over the Internet or on a smartphone, are not taxed at a higher rate than their tangible counterparts. For example, the bill would prevent the taxation of mp3 and software downloads at a higher rate than the tax on music and software CDs. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate earlier this year. (introduced Dec. 12 by Reps. Lamar Smith and Steve Cohen; referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary)

Government Reorganization. S. 1836 would merge the Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration into a Department of Commerce and the Workforce. A press release states that by combining DOC and DOL programs and offices with substantially similar missions, the newly merged department would be better positioned to promote economic growth and workforce protections. Among other things, the bill would transfer the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from DOC to the Department of the Interior. (introduced Dec. 17 by Sen. Burr; referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)

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