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Legislative Update: Tariffs, Trade Remedies, Gas Exports, Duty-Free Imports

Monday, October 01, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Tariffs. The Promoting Responsible and Free Trade Act (H.R. 6923, introduced Sept. 27 by Rep. Sanford, R-S.C.) would allow Congress to approve or deny any potential Section 201, 232, or 301 tariffs before they are sent to the president’s desk. If Congress approves such tariffs the president would still have final approval, but if it does not the president would no longer need to weigh in.

For Section 201 and 301 tariffs, the International Trade Commission or Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, respectively, would be required to send its report to Congress for a maximum review period of 60 days. Congress would have power to pass a joint resolution of disapproval within that period to stop the tariff’s implementation.

For Section 232 tariffs, the Department of Defense would first submit to the president a report on national security implications. If the president determines a tariff is necessary, the Department of Commerce would be required to send a report to Congress on tariff-level recommendations. Congress would have up to 60 days to approve the tariff report, which, if approved, would go to the president for final approval and implementation.

The bill includes a two-year retroactivity period for Section 232 tariffs, which would allow Congress to review any existing Section 232 tariffs, such as those in effect on steel and aluminum.

Trade Remedies. S. 3510 (introduced Sept. 27 by Sen. Nelson, D-Fla.) would allow fruit and vegetable growers to bring trade remedy cases against Mexican growers if they can prove the dumping occurs seasonally rather than year-round. A press release from Nelson’s office notes that the U.S. government currently does not consider seasonal differences in the market when determining whether to impose antidumping or countervailing duties. The press release notes that the Trump administration pledged to fix this problem in a revised NAFTA but that the deal with Mexico announced last month “failed to address the concerns of Florida growers.”

Natural Gas Exports. The House of Representatives approved Sept. 6 the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act (H.R. 4606, introduced Dec. 11 by Rep. Johnson, R-Ohio), which would require applications under the Natural Gas Act for the import or export of small volumes of natural gas (no more than 140 million cubic feet per day) to be approved without modification or delay. This bill is expected to aid in the shipment of natural gas to Caribbean and Central American countries that would otherwise not be interested in the larger shipments now made from Gulf of Mexico terminals. The Department of Energy finalized in July regulations that would implement similar policies as this bill.

Duty-Free Imports. S. 3470 (introduced Sept. 18 by Sen. Cardin, D-Md.) would authorize duty-free treatment for certain imports from Mongolia.

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