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Recent Legislation on Offshoring, Trade Secrets, Import Restrictions, Textiles and Apparel

Monday, September 15, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The following trade-related legislation has recently been introduced in the House of Representatives and/or the Senate.

Domestic Manufacturing. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., introduced July 29 several bills aimed at encouraging the manufacturing of goods in the United States. S. 2680 would direct the Department of Commerce to create a voluntary, standardized labeling program that would allow consumers to easily identify products made, manufactured and assembled in the U.S. Pryor said the “America Star” labeling program would be similar to the existing “Energy Star” program. S. 2681 would amend U.S. tax rules to (a) deny tax breaks for U.S. companies that move personnel and operations overseas and (b) allow U.S. companies to qualify for a tax credit equal to 20 percent of the costs associated with bringing jobs and business activity back to the U.S.

H.R. 5443, introduced Sept. 10 by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., would end tax deferrals on profits accumulated offshore and terminate the deferral of active income of controlled foreign corporations. A press release from Pocan’s office states that currently U.S. corporations “can defer paying taxes on foreign profits until that money is repatriated back to the U.S., often via dividends to shareholders,” and that this bill would “close this loophole and require controlled foreign corporations to pay U.S. taxes on future active income beginning on December 31, 2014.”

Trade Secrets. H.R. 5233, introduced July 29 by Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., would provide federal jurisdiction for the theft of trade secrets as part of a bipartisan, bicameral legislative effort to amend the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. Holding said that “the current patchwork within state and federal statutes is not enough to keep pace with organized trade secret theft” by electronic means, which costs “billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs each year.”

Forced Labor. H.R. 5247, introduced July 29 by Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., would eliminate the consumptive demand exception to the existing prohibition on imports of goods made with convict labor, forced labor or indentured labor. The bill would also require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to submit an annual report on compliance that includes information on the number of instances in which merchandise was denied entry as well as a description of such merchandise.

Textile and Apparel Goods. H.R. 5291, introduced July 30 by Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., would amend the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States with respect to textile and apparel goods exported for processing abroad and reimported.

Meat Imports and Origin Labeling. S. 2764, introduced July 31 by Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., would ban imports of fresh meat and meat food products until the Department of Agriculture certifies that the exporting country is totally free of foot-and-mouth disease. The bill also expresses support for country of origin labeling for meat products, which has been upheld by an appeals court decision but found to violate World Trade Organization rules by the WTO Appellate Body.

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