April at-a-glance … materials & handling

NAFEM and others advocate for removal, reconsideration of tariffs

The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) relaunched the Tariff Reform Coalition (TRC) (of which NAFEM Is a member) and again called for the removal of Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, as well as the review of Section 301 tariffs on imports from China. NFTC outlined four recommendations for addressing the harm caused by the tariffs:

  1. Tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum should be removed and use of other trade laws more consistent with the World Trade Organization (WTO) should be considered to address the issue of overcapacity.
  2. The administration should reassess the Section 301 tariffs and consider other approaches to address China’s unfair trade practices.
  3. Members of Congress should schedule public hearings for interested parties to be heard and provide oversight regarding the purpose of the Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs and whether they are achieving their objectives.
  4. While not an adequate substitute, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) should consider revising the existing Section 232 and Section 301 exclusion processes.

Section 232 exclusions continue to plague U.S. manufacturers

In the three years since the Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum were introduced, U.S. manufacturers have filed more than 225,000 exclusion requests. An updated study from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center free market think tank found that manufacturers are more than 90 percent less likely to get approval if their requests are followed by an objection from a domestic steel or aluminum producer. “Not surprisingly, objection filings have become increasingly excessive and producers object to even small quantities of imports.

Since the Biden administration has indicated its intent to keep tariffs in pace, the Mercatus Center recommends three ways to improve the process.

  1. Require objecting producers to prove (1) that they are qualified suppliers for the specific product in the original request and (2) that they can fulfill the request with the technical product specifications in fewer than 90 days.
  2. Require objecting producers to file a progress report midway through the 90-day fulfillment period to verify that production is on track to meet targets.
  3. Require objecting producers to demonstrate that the subject good was produced in the targeted time and offered for sale to the manufacturer.

NAFEM requests safe harbor provision and delay of proposed Prop 65 changes

On behalf of members, NAFEM submitted comments to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) regarding potential revisions to Proposition 65 “short-form” warnings for consumer products. Prop 65 requires warning labels to notify consumers of exposure to more than 1,000 chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Due to the challenges in securing information on included chemicals from global material and component suppliers, NAFEM recommended OEHHA adopt a safe-harbor provision freeing manufacturers from liability as long as they have documentation requesting the information from suppliers. NAFEM also recommended OEHHA delay the proposed 2021 effective date of new regulations by one-to-two years to “allow businesses time to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic before being forced to reformulate product labels, catalogues and websites.”