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GSP Reinstatement, Made in America Standard Among Topics of Legislative Action

Monday, February 12, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

GSP. H.R. 4979, a bipartisan bill introduced Feb. 8, would retroactively renew the Generalized System of Preferences, which expired Dec. 31, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2020. GSP provides duty-free access for imports of thousands of products from 121 beneficiary developing countries and, according to Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., saved U.S. companies more than $865 million in 2017. The House of Representatives will reportedly vote on the bill during the week of Feb. 12, but prospects for action in the Senate are unclear.

Reichert said this bill includes a new reporting requirement “that will improve the effectiveness of congressional oversight of enforcement of the eligibility criteria.” Those criteria, he said, “provide an important enforcement tool to require our trading partners to meet standards established by Congress in regard to opening their markets to U.S. goods and services, intellectual property protection, and child labor and worker rights.” 

This bill would also make changes that appear to be aimed at making it easier to waive competitive need limitations, which generally require the president to terminate GSP eligibility for products imported in excess of either of two value thresholds in a given year.

Made in America. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation amended and favorably reported the Reinforcing American-Made Products Act (S. 118), which would provide that the Federal Trade Commission's standard for labeling products as “Made in the U.S.A.” or “Made in America” would supersede any state law regarding the extent to which a product is introduced, delivered, sold, advertised, or offered for sale in interstate or foreign commerce with such a label. This national standard would allow a manufacturer with all or virtually all parts of its product produced in the U.S. to use the label. However, the bill would also allow for the application of state laws to enforce against the use of labels that do not comply with the federal standard.

Similar legislation (H.R. 4923) was introduced in the House Feb. 5 by Rep. Issa, R-Calif.

Customs. The Border and Port Security Act (H.R. 4940, introduced Feb. 6 by Rep. Vela, D-Texas) would increase the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and support staff and require reports that identify staffing, infrastructure, and equipment needed to enhance security at ports of entry.

Wildlife Exports. On Feb. 5 the House passed H.R. 2504, which would (a) exempt exporters of sea urchins and sea cucumbers that are designated as food for humans or animals or taken for recreational purposes from licensing requirements; and (2) require the Fish and Wildlife Service to amend regulations concerning transporting wildlife to clarify that such sea urchins and sea cucumbers are fishery products exempt from the export permission requirements under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. As a result, such exporters would be exempted from inspections to ensure shipments of those fishery products do not contain endangered or threatened species as well as related inspection fees.

Cosmetics. The Children’s Product Warning Label Act (H.R. 4964, introduced Feb. 8 by Rep. Dingell, D-Mich.) would require all cosmetics marketed to children to contain a warning label that the product has not been evaluated for asbestos contamination unless the manufacturer of the product (a) attests in writing that the source is an asbestos-free mine and (b) demonstrates to the Food and Drug Administration that the product is asbestos-free using the transmission electron microscopy method. 

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