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Legislative Update: Country of Origin, Trade Agreements, Export Officials

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Country of Origin 

The Transparency in Online Retailing Act (S. 1711, introduced June 4 by Sen. Merkley, D-Ore.) would require online retailers to disclose the country of origin of imported products. “Producers are already required by law to disclose the country of origin of their products with easily legible markers, but unless websites include that information in their product descriptions, consumers have no way of knowing where things are made,” Merkley said. Under this bill the Federal Trade Commission would be responsible for imposing penalties on online retailers that fail to comply.

Trade Agreements 

The Level the Playing Field in Global Trade Act (S. 1747, introduced June 5 by Sens. Merkley, D-Ore., Baldwin, D-Wis., and Gillibrand, D-N.Y.) would require any trade agreement eligible for expedited consideration by Congress to include enforceable standards requiring paying adequate wages and maintaining sustainable production methods. According to a press release from Merkley’s office, this bill would treat foreign producers’ failure to meet basic standards for worker pay, working conditions, and environmental practices as unfair subsidies in violation of  international trade obligations, allowing the federal government to penalize those imports. Countries that successfully meet benchmarks would be rewarded with streamlined trade and protection from enforcement actions.

Export Officials 

The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing June 5 to consider the following nominations: Nazak Nikakhtar to be under secretary of commerce for industry and security, Ian Steff to be assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, and Paul Shmotolokha to be first vice president of the Export-Import Bank.

For more information on pursuing trade policy interests through the legislative process, please contact trade consultant Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.

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