Capitol Hill insiders say the process of seeking Congressional renewal of duty suspensions under the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) will likely be launched in early 2012.That means companies interested in extending existing benefits for imports of rayon staple fibers and hundreds of other intermediate products should contact their members of Congress now in order to learn more about requesting a MTB duty suspension.
As nonwovens manufacturers will likely recall, the last tariff bill was delayed for months by partisan squabbling, preventing companies from accessing much needed relief during that time. After significant pressure from industry groups including INDA, lawmakers eventually approved the bill and President Obama signed it in August 2010, restoring the benefits until the end of 2012.
Given the lengthy process involved in approving duty requests, which requires action from both legislative chambers and vetting by several government agencies, sources anticipate a notice will go out as early as this month or next, inviting members of Congress to introduce individual duty suspension measures. Once it does, lawmakers will likely only have 30-45 days to respond. That makes it imperative that companies reach out now to their representatives and senators.
INDA is actively involved in MTB industry coalition activities and will inform its members when the process officially launches. In the meantime, use the following websites to identify and contact your U.S. Representative(s) and Senators: www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.
Strong showing at FDA meeting oncosmetic microbiological safety
Personal care products manufacturers came out in force for a FDA meeting on cosmetic microbiological safety, with many industry representatives presenting information describing the lengths companies go to ensure the safety of these products.
The agency announced it was collecting written comments to determine whether there’s a need for new regulatory guidance addressing these issues. The FDA requested input on a range of related topics including information on microbiological testing, preservatives, adverse events and more.
Etan Yeshua spoke on behalf of the Environmental Working Group, and urged the FDA to protect the microbiological safety of cosmetics and to take steps to limit the use of certain “toxic preservatives” including parabens and formaldehyde.
Jay Ansell of the Personal Care Products Council provided an overview of the industry’s extensive system of voluntary standards, programs and post-market surveillance. As a result, Ansell noted, adverse events involving cosmetics are extremely rare, and when they do occur, are almost exclusively due to irritation and sensitization.A second industry presenter, Phil Geis of Geis Microbiological Quality and Advanced Testing Laboratory, called the U.S. the“global leader for applied microbiological quality”in cosmetics. He addressed recent concerns about the agency’s handling of “objectionable” organisms, explaining why efforts to mandate total sterility are unnecessary and will stifle innovation and consumer choice. A third presenter, David Steinberg of the Cosmetic Preservative Council, stressed the importance of effective preservation methods to prevent contamination and noted that peer-reviewed studies of preservatives demonstrate their safety.
During a Q&A session one audience member asked the FDA panel a question that was on everyone’s mind: Given the cosmetics industry’s stellar safety record, what was the impetus for considering new guidance? After a somewhat lengthy pause, the agency staff finally explained that part of the FDA’s mission is pursuing a “preventative approach” to managing potential threats and that the meeting was simply intended to be a “listening session.”
Based on the solid industry response and minimal input from public interest groups, it is unclear whether the FDA will move forward with these activities. Either way, INDA will continue to monitor and report on any developments, and companies that are interested in submitting material to the FDA can learn more about how to do so by visiting www.gpo.gov.
INDA members interested in being added to an email list regarding these and other microbiological policy issues should contact Jessica Franken at 703-521-0545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
INDA wants your ideas on Canada, Japan & Mexico joining trade deal
On Dec. 7, 2011, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) issued a trio of Federal Register notices requesting public comments on the announcements by Japan, Canada and Mexico that they are interested in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
The current nine TPP countries – the U.S., Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam – concluded their tenth round of negotiations this December and President Obama has expressed the hope the deal will be completed in 2012.
Although the decision to allow any of the countries to join will require approval by all nine parties, if the three do eventually gain admittance, the TPP would represent a combined population of more than 750 million people with a total economic output of $25 trillion. Not too shabby.
USTR is specifically requesting input on a wide range of topics related to any or all of the three countries including: 1) Economic costs and benefits to U.S. producers and consumers of eliminating tariffs and eliminating or reducing non-tariff barriers on goods and services traded with these countries. 2) Treatment by these countries of specific goods (described by HTSUS numbers), including product-specific import or export interests or barriers. 3) Adequacy of existing customs measures to ensure that only qualifying imported goods from these countries receive preferential treatment, and appropriate rules of origin for goods entering the U.S. 4) Sanitary and phytosanitary measures or technical barriers to trade that should be addressed. 5) Existing barriers to trade in services between the United States and these countries that should be addressed. 6) Relevant electronic commerce issues. 7) Relevant trade-related intellectual property rights issues. 8) Relevant investment issues. 9) Relevant competition-related matters. 10) Relevant government procurement issues. 11) Relevant environmental issues. 12) Relevant labor issues. 13) Relevant transparency issues. 14) Relevant issues related to innovation and competitiveness, new technologies and emerging economic sectors, the participation of small- and medium-sized businesses in trade, and the development of efficient production and supply chains.
Although individual companies are encouraged to weigh-in independently, INDA is looking at the possibility of filing comments on behalf of the industry. However, we must hear from our members to make sure this submission is complete. If you have ideas to share on the above 14 topics, contact INDA Director of Government Affairs Jessica Franken at no later than Jan. 6, 2012.
To view the Federal Register notice, visit www.gpo.gov.