NEMA Welcomes Senate Passage of Customs and Trade Preferences Bills

ROSSLYN, Va. — NEMA welcomed passage by the U.S. Senate of two bills containing trade-related benefits for electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers: the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 and the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015. If approved by the House later this spring and signed into law by the president, both bills will help level the playing field for NEMA companies that compete and source internationally.

“The Senate took a significant step forward in passing the customs and the trade preferences bills,” said NEMA President and CEO Kevin J. Cosgriff. “These bills hold important benefits for our industry and we look forward to House passage as soon as possible.”

The Senate first approved the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 by a 97-1 vote. In part, the legislation renews the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which allows for duty-free importation of industrial inputs from less developed countries. The bill would reauthorize the program retroactively to July 2013 and forward to the end of 2017. Under the bill’s provisions, companies would have a 180-day period from the date of enactment to apply to the U.S. government for refunds of duties paid since 2013 on imports that would have been eligible for duty-free treatment if GSP had been in place.

The Senate then approved the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act by a 78-20 vote. In general, the bill authorizes and reforms the trade facilitation functions of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). More specifically, it contains a provision that requires CBP to share images and allows CBP to share samples of imports the agency has detained based on suspicion that the goods violate the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies. In this way, U.S. rights holders can aid CBP in determining whether the goods are genuine or counterfeit. The bill also supports CBP’s full implementation by the end of 2016 of the “single window” concept that enables electronic collection and distribution of import and export filings and data and thereby eliminates redundant information requirements on traders. The bill also includes provisions championed by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that would reform and revive the process by which Congress can write and consider a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill to temporarily suspend import duties on specific products used in U.S. manufacturing but not available from U.S. sources.

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