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Lauren Wilk

Manufacturers Celebrate Trade Facilitation Agreement Milestone

By | Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today marks a milestone for the World Trade Organization, as the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) – the first multilateral WTO agreement since 1995 – enters into force. The agreement represents a real win for manufacturers and workers throughout the United States, since they will increasingly be able to expand sales to foreign markets as other countries reduce red tape and slash barriers at their ports. The United States ratified the TFA in 2014 without the need for any changes to our system.

The NAM fought hard for this agreement as it was being negotiated and continued to push countries to simplify customs procedures that often represent a costly and significant barrier to foreign sales, particularly for small manufacturers. Since the agreement was concluded in December 2013, the NAM has worked vigorously to ensure ratification by the necessary 110 members so that the work of reforming and improving foreign border entry for U.S. manufactured goods can truly get started.

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According to a 2015 study, full implementation of the TFA will cut trade costs by an average of 14.3%. The TFA will reduce the time to import goods by over a day and a half – a reduction of 47% of the current average – and reduce the time to export by almost two days – a reduction of 91%. Overall, the TFA also has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by nearly $1 trillion. For manufacturers in the United States, the expansion of exports is important to drive growth in manufacturing output and jobs here at home.

Last summer, more than 30 business associations joined the NAM in urging countries to ratify the TFA. Letters were sent to each of the countries that had not yet ratified the TFA at that point, and examples of those letter can be found here for FTA partners and here for non-FTA partners. Now that two-thirds of WTO members have completed their domestic ratification process, WTO members are obligated to implement their commitments.

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey:

“Manufacturers are excited to see a strong Trade Facilitation Agreement enter into force today. Countries around the world have agreed to cut red tape at their borders and institute the kind of transparent customs system that the United States is proud to already have. As other countries fulfill their commitments to ensure predictable and efficient customs procedures, manufacturers in the United States will have improved access to the 95 percent of consumers outside our border and expect increased sales opportunities globally that will bolster job growth at home. Today’s official start of the TFA reaffirms the importance of the WTO as a global rules-setting and rules-based organization, which is critical to raise standards and hold countries accountable to open and fair trade rules.”

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Several international organizations crunch trade-related data into country profiles and rankings, providing a snapshot of a country’s trade facilitation progress.

• The World Economic Forum’s Global Enabling Trade Report uses data from public and private sources to highlight the “best performers” across criteria like domestic market access and availability/quality of transport infrastructure.

• The World Bank, as part of its Doing Business project, records the time and cost associated with the logistical process of importing and exporting goods in 189 countries. The interactive Trading Across Borders database specifically examines three sets of procedures: documentary compliance, border compliance and domestic transport.

The OECD Trade Facilitation Indicators (TFIs) cover 11 policy areas of the TFA and will track, to the extent possible, implementation of trade facilitation measures. The interactive map covers 163 countries, with notes about each country’s trade facilitation performance and key opportunities for reform.

All developed country members of the WTO will start applying all of the substantive provisions of the TFA today. Developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs) will also begin applying those substantive provisions of the TFA they have indicated they are in a position to do so – as set out in the Category A notifications, which more than 90 countries have submitted to date. The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility and the public-private Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation are providing resources and helping countries tackle these changes on the ground.

Manufacturers in the United States – particularly small businesses — will see huge cost savings and new opportunities now that countries are required to be predictable, efficient and transparent with their customs processes.

To learn more about the NAM’s efforts to create efficient customs procedures in the United States and abroad, click here.

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Amendments to Promote Engagement with Cuba

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four amendments related to Cuba during today’s mark-up of the FY2017 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Act, including the following:

  • An amendment to lift the ban on private-sector agriculture export financing and to end the “180 day rule” for vessels that stop at a Cuban port, offered by FSGG Subcommittee Chairman John Boozman (R-AR) and Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL); approved by a vote of 22-8
  • An amendment to lift the travel ban, offered by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Durbin; approved by voice vote
  • An amendment to allow U.S. companies to export consumer communications devices and telecommunications services to Cuba, offered by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM); approved by voice vote
  • An amendment to allow flights bound for Cuba to make technical stops at American airports, offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME); approved by voice vote

The NAM sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee this week in support of the amendments. Read More

Senate Finance Committee Examines U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee held an oversight hearing on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that featured testimony from CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. In his testimony, Kerlikowske highlighted the agency’s “Trade Transformation” initiative to create efficiency at the border and leverage publicprivate partnership programs. For example, the CBP continues to deploy the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), which will ultimately serve as the central portal where importers and exporters will electronically transmit the data required by the U.S. government to release cargo. Kerlikowske confirmed that the CBP is on track to deliver all core trade processing capabilities in ACE by December 31, 2016. He also highlighted the agency’s enforcement operations, citing enforcement of intellectual property rights and antidumping/countervailing duties as two of the CBP’s priority trade issues. Read More

Fully Functioning Ex-Im Bank Tops the List of Priority Trade Issues

By | Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

For manufacturers in the United States, trade is a priority issue. Ninety-five percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States, and it is essential that America’s manufacturers have the necessary trading tools in place to reach these foreign customers.

To address the importance of trade to American manufacturers’ competitiveness, the NAM hosted a Shopfloor event on Capitol Hill on April 15 with featured speakers including leading manufacturing CEOs and policy experts as well as Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade at the House Ways and Means Committee. One of the top issues the panelists discussed was the importance of a fully functioning Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank and the need for the Senate to move forward on the pending Ex-Im Board of Director nominee. Read More

It’s Time to End Cuba Trade Restrictions

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

President Obama made a historic visit this week to Cubathe first visit by a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 yearson the heels of new announcements last week to further ease restrictions on exports and facilitate authorized travel to the island. In an address to the Cuban people, President Obama made clear that the goal of the trip was to “bury the last remnants of the Cold War in the Americas.” Across the three-day visit, President Obama engaged local entrepreneurs, visited the newly reopened U.S. Embassy and met with Cuban President Raul Castro to discuss a number of key issues impacting the path forward on normal trade relations between the two countries. At the start of the trip, Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced a new deal to develop and manage operations in Cuba, becoming the first U.S. hotel company presence on the island since the 1959 revolution. While the travel ban for U.S. tourism remains, the deal serves as another indicator of the significant changes in diplomatic relations over the past year.

The NAM released today a letter to commend Reps. Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) for their efforts to repeal the trade embargo on Cuba, the Cuba Trade Act of 2015 (H.R. 3238). The NAM is a strong advocate for a robust trade agenda to open markets abroad for manufacturers in the United States, and eliminating the trade embargo on Cuba will allow for increased economic activity between the two nations. A 2014 Peterson Institute study estimated that U.S. merchandise exports to Cuba could reach $4.3 billion annually. In recent years, merchandise exports to Cuba have been a fraction of thatgenerally ranging between $300 million and $500 million annually. Read More

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Examines Trade with Cuba

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade held a hearing Tuesday on “Trade with Cuba: Growth and Opportunities.” The hearing comes ahead of President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba next week. The visit, a first for a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years, is a clear indication of the progress made since the administration announced in December 2014 its goal of normal trade relations with Cuba. Read More

President Signs Ex-Im Reauthorization into Law – A Massive Victory for Manufacturers

By | Economy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Final thank you jay quoteYesterday, President Obama signed into law a bill that included a multi-year reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, effectively re-opening the bank’s doors after a five-month lapse.  As NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons put it, ““This is a victory for manufacturers of all sizes as well as for workers here in the United States. The Ex-Im Bank is critical to keeping America competitive in the global economy.”  Read More

New Poll Finds Voters in Four “Heartland” States Favor Engagement with Cuba

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Earlier this week, the Engage Cuba coalition – of which the NAM is a partner – released with the Atlantic Council the results of a new poll that found a majority of Americans in four key “heartland” states support President Barack Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba and are in favor of lifting all restrictions on travel to the island. Read More

Surprised by Tuesday’s Ex-Im Vote? Don’t Be.

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

The House of Representatives delivered a huge win for manufacturers and American jobs Tuesday night by passing a bill to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank for close to five years. A strong coalition consisting of both Republican and Democrats passed the bill by a vote of 313-118, with a majority of Republicans joining nearly all Democrats in favor of passage.  Read More

Exporters for Ex-Im: NOVA Pressroom Finds Opportunity in Latin American Markets

By | Trade | No Comments

The global market for manufactured goods continues to grow, providing myriad opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to expand their product reach overseas.  The U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank is a critical tool that allows manufacturers, like Florida-based NOVA Pressroom Products, a chance at developing a successful exporting business to Latin American countries.  Read More