Customs Bill. The House of Representatives has joined the Senate in agreeing to move to conference on customs legislation that seeks to strengthen trade facilitation and enforcement. The House and Senate versions of the bill contain similar language on most issues, including drawback and trade remedy reform, customs broker penalties, import safety, intellectual property rights and CBP programs. There are differences on issues like currency manipulation, antidumping and countervailing duty evasion, and the miscellaneous trade bill process, however, that will have to be resolved. The conference could be completed this week and lawmakers could vote on a final measure during the week of Dec. 7.

Trade Enforcement. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced Nov. 18 the Trade Enforcement Improvement Act (S. 2299), which includes the following measures.

- allows AD and CV duties to be imposed retroactively in cases where an industry is judged to be facing critical circumstances

- allows AD and CV duties to be imposed even further in advance before critical harm is done to a domestic industry facing the threat of material injury

- requires the publication of a list of AD/CV duty evaders to help raise public awareness and assist law enforcement

The two senators said this bill is aimed specifically at cracking down on the illegal dumping of steel products by foreign countries. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., went a step further Nov. 30 in introducing legislation (H.R. 4130) that would immediately halt the importation of foreign steel and steel products for five years. Nolan is also urging President Obama to use his executive authority under Section 201 of the 1974 Trade Act to impose tariffs on imported steel that are high enough to effectively impose a moratorium on such shipments.

Food Labeling. The Food Labeling Modernization Act, introduced Nov. 18 in both the House (H.R. 4061) and Senate (S. 2301), would amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to minimize confusing and misleading information about nutrients on food labels. Lawmakers said the bills’ “signature initiative” would direct the Food and Drug Administration to establish a single, standard front of package nutrition labeling system that is easily seen and understood and displays caloric information related to a common serving size and information related to nutrients strongly associated with public health concerns. Other provisions include the following.

- requires new guidelines for the use of the words “healthy” and “made with whole grain”

- requires the percent daily values for calories and sugar, as well as the amount of sugar that is not naturally occurring, to be listed on the Nutrition Facts label

- adds trans fats to the list of fats for which the FDA can disqualify cholesterol claims and specifies that trans fat-free claims cannot be made unless the food contains less than one gram of saturated fat

- requires that any food with at least 10 mg caffeine per serving include a statement of the content of this ingredient

- requires the manufacturer or importer of any food to submit to the FDA and keep updated all information that is to be included in the labeling of food and provides penalties of up to $10,000 for reporting violations

- defines “artificial” and “synthetic” for purposes of the FFDCA

Cosmetics. The Cosmetic Modernization Amendments of 2015 (H.R. 4075), introduced Nov. 18 by Rep. Sessions, R-Texas, would require every domestic and foreign establishment engaged in the manufacture of cosmetics intended to be sold in the U.S. to register with the FDA and submit a cosmetic and ingredient statement. Imported cosmetics would be denied entry into the U.S. if the importer does not present the establishment registration number and the cosmetic and ingredient statement number.

Foreign and domestic manufacturers, packers or distributors whose name appears on the label of a cosmetic marketed in the U.S would have to report to the FDA information received concerning serious and unexpected adverse events resulting from the recommended or suggested use of that product.

The bill also includes a list of ingredients deemed to be adequately substantiated for safe use in cosmetics subject to the requirements of good manufacturing practice.

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