Trade Enforcement. The Trade Enforcement Act (S. 758, introduced March 17 by Sens. Stabenow, D-Mich., and Graham, R-S.C.) would make the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center a permanent center responsible for coordinating the enforcement powers of multiple federal agencies, create a chief trade enforcement officer to lead ITEC, and create a chief manufacturing negotiator within the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The Balancing Trade Act (H.R. 1403, introduced March 17 by Rep. Kaptur, D-Ohio) would require the president, if in three consecutive calendar years the U.S. has a trade deficit with another country of $10 billion or more, to take the necessary steps to create a trading relationship that would eliminate or substantially reduce that deficit by entering into an agreement with that country.
The Leveling the Playing Field Act (S. 891, introduced March 27 by Sen. Brown, D-Ohio) would amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to facilitate the administration and enforcement of antidumping and countervailing duty orders. Among other things, this bill would (a) maintain the Commerce Department’s discretion to use adverse facts available when a mandatory respondent does not cooperate with an investigation and clarify that the agency is not obligated to determine what a margin would be if the respondent had participated, (b) increase the number of factors and the length of time the International Trade Commission should use to evaluate injury or the threat of injury to U.S. producers, (c) close the “new shipper loophole” used by companies to circumvent AD/CV duties, (d) increase penalties for failure to provide a country of origin certificate for merchandise covered under AD/CV duty orders or for falsifying the information on the certificate, (e) clarify that Commerce has the authority to determine whether to include voluntary respondents in an investigation, and (f) clarify that Commerce does not have to conduct an additional investigation to prove that disregarded product values used in non-market economy investigations are subsidized or dumped if the record already shows the product values to be distorted.
Textiles. The Textile Enforcement and Security Act (S. 892, introduced March 27 by Sen. Graham, R-S.C.) would provide the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of the Treasury with authority to more aggressively enforce customs and trade laws relating to textile and apparel articles. Among other things, this bill would require (a) seizure of textile and apparel imports if the product’s country of origin is not verified or is falsified, (b) CBP to use the fines collected from textile and apparel import violations to pay for training of specialists in textile and apparel enforcement, (c) specific staffing levels at CBP’s Textile Enforcement Branch, (d) CBP to certify that a certain number of import specialists at the 15 largest U.S. ports are trained to prevent textile and apparel import fraud, (e) require Treasury to publish in the Federal Register the names of persons outside the U.S. who have violated textile and apparel custom laws, and (f) CBP and the Department of Commerce to establish an electronic verification system for tracking textile and apparel imports under free trade agreements.
H.R. 1696 (introduced March 26 by Rep. Graham, D-Fla.) would extend the tariff preference level on imports of certain cotton and man-made fiber, fabric, apparel and made-up goods from Bahrain under the U.S.-Bahrain FTA.
Chemicals. The Toxic Chemical Protection Act (S. 725, introduced March 12 by Sens. Boxer, D-Calif., and Markey, D-Mass.) would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to, among other things: (1) require the Environmental Protection Agency to use a stronger standard to judge whether chemicals are safe, (2) require the EPA to review chemicals more quickly, (3) require immediate attention on chemicals that accumulate in human bodies and the environment, (4) clarify which chemicals the EPA can designate as needing review or considered safe without a full review, (5) ensure that all chemicals in the marketplace are ultimately assessed by the EPA, (6) preserve the EPA’s authority to monitor imports of chemicals and mixtures and products that contain them, and (7) broadly preserve the authority of states to restrict the use of chemicals and enforce federal restrictions under state law.
The BPA in Food Packaging Right to Know Act (S. 821, introduced March 19 by Sen. Boxer, D-Calif.) would require food packaged with bisphenol A to have a label that reads as follows: “This food packaging contains BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, according to the National Institutes of Health.” The bill would also direct the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a safety assessment of food containers containing BPA to determine if there is reasonable certainty that low-dose, long-term exposure will not cause negative health effects and evaluate alternatives to BPA.
Taxation. The Permanent CFC Look-Through Act (H.R. 1430, introduced March 18 by Rep. Boustany, R-La.) would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the look-through treatment of payments between related controlled foreign corporations.
Pharmaceuticals. The Speeding Access to Already Approved Pharmaceuticals Act (H.R. 1455, introduced March 18 by Rep. Stivers, R-Ohio), would require the Food and Drug Administration to facilitate the development and expedite the review of a new drug, biological product or medical device that has been approved in the European Union.