Legislation to prevent future port slowdowns, grant trade preferences to Nepal in the wake of a recent earthquake in that country, and further boost U.S. exports has recently been introduced in the House and Senate.

Ports. The Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments Act (S. 1519, introduced June 4 by Sen. Gardner, R-Colo.) would discourage disruptions at U.S. seaports like the one that slowed imports and exports at U.S. West Coast ports earlier this year. The PORTS Act would grant to state governors the powers currently reserved for the president under the Taft-Hartley Act, including the ability to convene a board of inquiry and start the Taft-Hartley process whenever a port labor dispute is causing economic harm. Once that board reports, governors could petition federal courts to enjoin slowdowns, strikes or lockouts at ports in their states. The PORTS Act would explicitly include slowdowns as a trigger for Taft-Hartley powers.

Nepal. The Nepal Trade Preferences Act (H.R. 2659, introduced June 4 by Rep. Crenshaw, R-Fla.) would authorize preferential treatment for certain goods imported directly from Nepal, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, and extending through Dec. 31, 2025. Covered goods include specified luggage and bags, carpets and rugs, and textiles and apparel, provided they are determined to not be import-sensitive.


Exports. The Export Coordination Act (H.R. 2586, introduced June 1 by Reps. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, and Gerry Connolly, D-Va.) seeks to improve the coordination of federal export promotion resources and streamline the export process so that more small businesses can sell goods overseas. This bill would require the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee to clearly define each federal agency’s role in the export process, establish a central listing of all trade events, give state trade agencies a voice in setting national export strategy, and reduce the overlap of current export resources.

The State Trade Coordination Act (H.R. 2587, introduced June 1 by Rep. Chabot) would (a) revise the membership of the TPCC to include one or more presidential appointees representing state trade promotion agencies, (b) direct the TPCC to coordinate with representatives of state trade promotion agencies in developing a plan to integrate the resources and strategies of those agencies into the overall federal trade promotion program, (c) require the development of an annual federal-state export strategy for goods and services for each state that submits its export strategy for the upcoming year, and (d) revise the strategic plan for federal trade promotion efforts to include an annual survey and analysis of the overall effectiveness of federal-state coordination and export promotion goals as well as best practices, recommendations to better assist small businesses and other relevant matters.

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