Ways and Means Press: Levin Statement on TPA Changes in Customs Bill

June 10, 2015


June 10, 2015
Caroline Behringer, (202) 226-1007

Levin Statement on TPA Changes in Customs Bill

WASHINGTON – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today issued the following statement in regards to changes to the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (“the Customs bill”) made by House Republicans:
“Anyone who is thinking of supporting TPA must consider the amendments to TPA incorporated in the Customs bill,” said Rep. Levin. “House Republicans are using the Customs bill as a vehicle to further in TPA their rigid ideological agenda. They also strike any form of meaningful action against currency manipulation and weaken trade enforcement provisions.”
Provisions added to the Customs bill (Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act) in the House:
·         Weakens Senate TPA on Human Trafficking. As passed by Senate, TPA provides that fast track may not be applied to any trade agreement that involves a country on “tier 3” of the human trafficking report. This bill would create an exception that would fast track trade agreements  so long as the country has “taken concrete action,” even though it continues to fall short of minimum standards. This provision appears to be inconsistent with the labor obligations House Democrats have insisted upon, which require our trading partners to meet minimum standards regarding forced labor before Congress votes on a trade agreement (part of the congressional-executive “May 10th Agreement” of 2007).
·         Prohibits climate change obligations in trade agreements. Amends TPA to “ensure that trade agreements do not require changes to U.S. law or obligate the United States with respect to global warming or climate change.” Some TPP parties have proposed obligations to address climate change in TPP, recognizing the connection between trade and climate change.
·         Prohibits immigration-related obligations in trade agreements. Amends TPA to “ensure that trade agreements do not require changes to the immigration laws of the United States or obligate the United States to grant access or expand ace to visas under section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” Efforts to include a similar provision regarding Dodd-Frank was rejected in the Senate and is not included in this bill.
In addition, the House Customs legislation does the following:
·         Strips out Schumer currency manipulation provision. That provision – to apply countervailing duties to offset material injury caused to US industries from unfairly traded imports – is very similar to a bill that passed the House with majority support of both parties in 2010. Instead, this bill includes weak language relating to existing reporting requirements on currency – requirements which this Administration and the last have repeatedly ignored.
·         Other Shortcomings. This bill also fails to include the strong provisions to address the circumvention of antidumping and countervailing duties that was in the Senate bill. It also fails to provide a path to passing the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill which reduces import duties applied on inputs for US manufacturers. Also excludes other enforcement actions in the Senate bill relating to funding to enforce trade agreements and a process to consider possible breaches of environmental provisions in trade agreements.

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