Legislative Update: Tariffs, WTO Reform, Shipping, Cosmetics
Tariff Authority. Inside US Trade reports that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has directed his staff to coordinate the crafting of “a bill restricting President Trump’s national security tariff powers that would win enough support to override a veto” by the president. Two different versions of such legislation have been introduced in both the House and Senate – the Congressional Trade Authority Act, which would limit future Section 232 actions to specific types of goods and give Congress the final say on whether to impose tariffs or other restrictions, and the Trade Security Act, which is seen as less strict. According to the article, Grassley said his initial discussions on the issue with Democrats have been positive, “with less opposition than he had expected.”
WTO Reform. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing March 12 on the current state of the World Trade Organization and potential reforms that would strengthen the institution. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is expected to be the sole witness.
“The World Trade Organization has been the clearing house for our rules-based international trading system for nearly a quarter century,” said Chairman Grassley. “Overall, it’s been a force for good in moving global commerce forward. But reform and oversight are critical to the proper functioning of institutions, and the WTO is no exception. We must be diligent to ensure that the United States receives the full and intended benefits of WTO membership and that all members play by the rules.”
Shipping. The Open America’s Water Act (S. 694, introduced March 7 by Sen. Lee, R-Utah) would repeal Jones Act restrictions on coastwise trade and allow all qualified vessels to engage in domestic trade between U.S. ports. The Jones Act currently requires such trade to be conducted by vessels that are constructed in the U.S., registered in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed primarily by U.S. citizens.
Cosmetics. The Personal Care Products Safety Act (S. 726, introduced March 7 by Sens. Feinstein, D-Calif., and Collins, R-Maine) would require the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate a minimum of five ingredients found in personal care products per year to determine their safety and appropriate use. This review process would provide companies with clear guidance about whether ingredients should continue to be used and whether consumer warnings are needed.
The bill would also give the FDA authority to require labeling of products that include ingredients not appropriate for children and those that should be professionally administered, require complete label information (including ingredients and product warnings) to be posted online, and require manufacturers to register annually and provide the FDA with information on the ingredients used in their personal care products.
For more information on pursuing trade policy interests through the legislative process, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.