Adam Reiser: Trump administration struggles to enforce ‘Buy American’ EO 13788

Nearly eight months after President Donald J. Trump signed his executive order “Buy American and Hire American,” an expert on certifying whether goods are made in the United States shared with Big League Politics the challenges in certification and enforcing Trump’s intentions.

 

 

 

Adam Reiser, the CEO and founder of Certified, Inc., told Big League Politics he is seeing no action in the executive branch to move the president’s executive order forward.

A source familiar with how the White House drafted the executive order told Big League Politics: “There are zero teeth in it, you know? Let’s of fanfare, lots of publicity, back-slapping and hand-shaking with Trump–and now, it is getting resisted, like as if it meant nothing.”

According to the president’s directive, all agencies were supposed to have turned into both the Department of Commerce and the Office of Management and Budget how they plan to comply. These plans are to include, searchable databases of certified vendors, storage arrangements for the documents and simplifications of their internal procurement procedures.

Reiser said Trump’s executive order was the president’s attempt to bring federal procurement back in synch with the law.

The Buy American Act of 1933 was signed by President Herbert Hoover the day before he handed over the White House to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Act was championed by Rep. Joseph W. Byrne, (D.-Tenn.), then the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and later Speaker of the House.

Byrne’s idea was that given support by the Hearst newspapers and by Hoover’s Commissioner of Customs Francis F.A. Eble, who would go on to start the Buy American Club.

“The law says that the U.S. government has to show preferential treatment to U.S. manufacturers,” Reiser said. “It is so the government has to buy from its own.”

Reiser said that from the 1970s, the federal government has been providing waivers to the 1933 law. “In the 1980s and 1990s, it has picked up big-time.”

When the president signed Executive Order 13788, the White House was optimistic.

President Donald J. Trump holding his Executive Order 13788 at the April 18, 2017 Kenosha, Wis., signing ceremony. (White House photo)

A senior administration official speaking on background on Easter Monday, the day before the executive order was signed in the headquarters of the tool company Snap-On in Kenosha, Wisconsin, said the executive order would correct the abuse of the Buy American Act waiver process.

“Okay, so the culture immediately changes across the agencies.  We have a lax enforcement, lax monitoring, lax compliance,” the official said. Read more of this post

Made in USA: Growing Panes for a High-Tech Window Company

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SageGlass was bought by a French company but its manufacturing remains in the United States. Operations director David Pender talks about the pros and cons of this arrangement.

SageGlass invented dynamic glass—“tint on demand” windows that use special coatings and low voltages of electricity to filter out varying degrees of light. The small company started in 1989 in New York, but eventually moved to Faribault, Minnesota, 50 miles south of Minneapolis, because the area was developing a reputation for its innovation in window manufacturing.

Then in 2012, French building materials manufacturer Saint-Gobain acquired SageGlass. Although the unmet demand for dynamic glass was mainly in Europe, Saint-Gobain chose to keep production in Minnesota, build a new plant there, and convert the old plant to a research and development facility. The new facility can coat panes of glass that are more than twice the size of the old ones.

David Pender, director of operations at SageGlass (who previously spent 11 years in Germany working for Saint Gobain), talked about the challenges and advantages of keeping SageGlass’s manufacturing and R&D in the United States:

Challenge: Europe has the most growth potential, but our manufacturing facility is in the U.S.

Western Europe is a little further along than the U.S. in building codes. What’s considered extremely exotic here … is considered almost normal in Europe. Getting the supply chain right to be able to produce everything from what’s acceptable in the U.S. to what’s expected in Europe poses a certain amount of challenge. We’ve got to be sourcing some things from Europe, to make the products here and then shift them back to Europe. That doesn’t make too much sense at the moment, but we are trying to grow this market worldwide. Europe is growing very, very quickly because the Saint-Gobain name in Europe is a big plus.

Advantage: The highest demand for the product is still in the U.S.

Overall, we’re on a three to four times year-over-year expansion. So this year we’ll produce three to four times what we did in 2016. Which is a phenomenal growth rate, and that’s set to continue as we grow in the Europe, in the U.S. and the Middle East. We just got our first really big job in China. In the future, this facility will get to capacity and just produce in North America, and there will probably be another facility doing something similar in Europe—and who knows how that will do going forward.

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South Carolina just obliterated millions of bees by accident

Reports out of South Carolina have indicated that when officials approved the spraying of local farmlands with insecticide to prevent the spread of Zika-carrying mosquitos, it accidentally wiped out millions of bees too.

The insecticide in question, called Naled, is known to be “highly toxic” to bees, and these vital pollinators appear to be the latest collateral damage in the fight against Zika.

In response to the ensuing outcry from local farmers after last Sunday’s bout of aerial spraying in Dorchester County, the local administrator’s office announcedthat the state health department had reported four travel-related cases of Zika virus in the Summerville area of Dorchester County on Friday 26 August.

While the health department reported that no one has been infected from a local mosquito bite to date, Dorchester County officials justified the accidental bee cull on the grounds that the mosquito population remained a threat.

“Dorchester County is concerned about the safety of its citizens,” a statement from the County Administrator’s Office reads. “This includes protecting citizens from insect bites from pests such as mosquitoes that carry viruses including West Nile and Zika.”

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Hotels bet guests will favor furnishings made in USA

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Montague Furniture

By:Barbara Delollis USA Today

When you walk into a hotel in the U.S. today, you’ll see many items – chairs, draperies, lamps – that were made in China, Vietnam, Malaysia or elsewhere overseas.

But that’s gradually changing, hotel designers and furniture makers tell Hotel Check-In.

There’s a small but growing trend among hotels to buy more items from local, regional or U.S. vendors.

Hotel owners, developers and designers are increasingly deciding it’s worth it, even if they pay a little extra for a U.S. product.

Why? There’s time and risk involved with ordering items from overseas, plus showcasing locally made goods can give the hotel a patriotic or community-minded spin.

Examples:

  • The Hyatt Regency Minneapolis recently finished a $25 million revamp that used “Made in America” as its central theme. More than three-quarters of the items purchased for the renovation came from the USA, says designer Michael Suomi of New York-based Stonehill & Taylor. The guest bathroom counter tops, for instance, feature granite quarried locally and purchased from a century-old Minnesota company.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, in Greensboro, Ga., is in the midst of redecorating to give guests a lighter, more modern look with many U.S.-made products, says Megan Ybarra of the Dallas-based interior design firm Duncan Miller Ullman. The hotel found wall coverings from Kentucky, guestroom carpet from Georgia, and a Texas metalwork firm was hired to custom-make the metal branches that form the base of guestroom ottomans, she says.
  • The InterContinental Chicago’s 477-room renovation emphasizes locally-sourced materials and furniture, says Dan Egan, the hotel’s sales and marketing director. Guest rooms contain drapery from Union, Ill., headboards from Jasper, Ind., wall covering from York, Penn., and room signage in hallways from McCook, Ill.
  • Montague, a 20-year-old guestroom furniture maker, last April invested in its first-ever factory – and it’s located in North Carolina, says Misty Delbridge, who runs the company’s U.S. division. It made sense, because hotel owners are increasingly seeking products made here and the factory was in danger of closing down, she says. A Hilton hotel in Texas, for instance, is having the company prepare two model rooms for a renovation – one outfitted with furnishings made in Vietnam and the other with furnishings made in the U.S., she says. Montague still has about 70% of its products produced in China and Malaysia.

No. 1 priority: Put heads in beds

Another factor driving the growth in U.S.-sourced products is hotels’ rush to renovate in as small a window as possible so that rooms can stay filled with paying customers, says Delbridge. It’s especially true in New York City, where some hotels can be sold out or almost sold out most nights of the year.

“If the cost (to purchase U.S.-made furniture) is 10% higher and the hotel can gain revenue back in six to eight weeks, they’re all about it because then they could have a ‘Made in America’ story and gain revenue,” Delbridge says. “These companies wouldn’t do it just for the story. There’s got to be an advantage in it for them.”

Hotel renovations are faster paced than building new hotels from scratch, notes Ybarra, who worked on the Ritz-Carlton Lodge project. It typically takes about 18 months to renovate a hotel, which since the recession has been the most common activity among hoteliers, vs. about three years to build a new one, she says.

“Our clients are willing to pay an extra dollar or two to not have the hassle of waiting,” Ybarra says. There’s also the risk of complications, she says, citing long waits at U.S. Customs and a time when pirates took over containers filled with items for a Turks and Caicos hotel.

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Made in America, Again

Bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. is politically savvy and can make economic sense.

Offshore labor: A worker in a Foxconn factory assembles consumer electronics for U.S. markets.

At a dinner for Silicon Valley big shots in February 2011, President Obama asked Steve Jobs what it would take to manufacture the iPhone in the United States. Apple’s founder and CEO is said to have responded directly: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

In December, Apple reversed course, saying it planned to assemble a line of Mac computers in the U.S. With that, Apple joined a wave of companies that say manufacturing in this country makes sense again. Companies that say they’ve brought back jobs include General Electric, Michigan Ladder, and Wham-O, which in 2010 hired eight people to make Frisbees in Los Angeles instead of China. An MIT study in 2012 found that 14 percent of companies intend to move some manufacturing back home.

The idea is known as “reshoring.” Although Chinese wages are a fraction of U.S. labor costs, rising shipping rates, quality problems, and the intangible costs of being far from headquarters all add up. That’s why some companies have begun to rethink the manufacturing equation.

MIT Technology Review interviewed Harry Moser, head of the Chicago-basedReshoring Initiative, about the trend. Moser, a former industry executive whose family has been involved in American manufacturing for a century, says he grew up “experiencing the glory of U.S. manufacturing.” He created the initiative to help companies compare the real costs of manufacturing at home and abroad, and to track the experiences of those who are returning.

Why are people talking about reshoring all of a sudden?

It’s actually been happening over the last few years. The obvious answer is that Chinese wages are doubling every four years. The consultants who five years ago were helping people offshore are now helping them inshore. And then you have President Obama making a big deal over how to reduce imports and start making stuff again.

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California to Vote on GMO Food Labeling

Californians are on course to vote whether genetically modified food must be labeled. A petition was signed by 971,126 Californians, 75 percent more than the minimum needed for a statewide vote concurrent with the Nov. 6 general election.

Approval from 50 percent of voters would make the proposal law.

“The right to know is as American as apple pie,” said Gary Ruskin, an Oakland-based proponent for the measure, officially known as Proposition 37.

The California movement is mobilizing consumer unease over modified ingredients, which are found in about 80 percent of processed foods in the U.S. according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The campaign is the best chance for biotech labeling in the U.S. after the failure of similar bills in 19 states and the rejection of a petition to the Food and Drug Administration last month, Ruskin said.

Monsanto, a multinational agriculture biotech company, opposes labeling modified ingredients because the move risks “misleading consumers into thinking products are not safe when in fact they are,” Sara E. Miller, a spokeswoman for St. Louis-based Monsanto, said in an e-mail.

Biotech labeling, which has been adopted in more than 50 countries, has never been endorsed by the FDA.

Modified foods have been in U.S. grocery stores since 1994. Ninety-three percent of Americans say genetically engineered foods should be labeled, according to an October 2010 poll conducted by Thompson Reuters Corp. and National Public Radio. Seventy-nine percent have doubts about the safety of such foods, according to the poll.

Should it be approved, Proposition 37 would require labels of foods made with biotech ingredients to state that they were “produced with genetic engineering.” Labels would be phased in over 18 months. Exemptions include restaurant food, alcohol and meat from animals fed with modified grains.

The label “would be the equivalent of a skull and crossbones” that would drive away customers and force food producers to stop using engineered ingredients, Joseph Mercola, the initiative’s leading funder with $800,000 in donations, said in a Web posting. Mercola is an osteopath who promotes natural remedies at his clinic in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

“Whether or not you believe agricultural chemicals belong in a wholesome diet is beside the point,” said Mercola. “You still ought to have the right to decide whether you want to spend your money on foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.”

Popular New York Times food writer Mark Bittman says Proposition 37 will give consumers the basic right to know what they are eating.

“We have a right to know what’s in the food we eat and a right to know how it’s produced,” he wrote in a recent column. “This is true even if food containing or produced using GMOs (genetically modified organisms) were the greatest thing since crusty bread.”

© 2012 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Read more: Calif. to Vote on GMO Food Labeling

China escalates U.S. trade dispute, requests WTO decision

The low cost of labour, coupled with the massive scale of production at its 14,000-person plant, have enabled China’s Suntech to become the global industry leader in solar power in just a decade

GENEVA (Reuters) – In a move that escalates a trade row with the United States, China said it would ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to adjudicate a dispute over U.S. punitive import duties on 22 Chinese exports, including solar panels and steel products.

China first brought the complaint to the WTO in May by asking the United States for formal “consultations” to explain the duties, which Washington says are intended to offset illegal subsidies that gave Chinese goods an unfair price advantage.

WTO rules entitle China to demand adjudication after a 60 day period of consultations. China will make the demand for adjudication at a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body on Aug 31, China said in a statement circulated to WTO members this week.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in May that China’s decision to bring the dispute to the WTO was “premature and not an appropriate use of dispute settlement system resources”, because the U.S. Department of Commerce was already working to address the issues raised by China.

But China’s statement said two subsequent rounds of talks, on June 25 and July 18, had failed to resolve the dispute, which includes wind towers, as well as certain types of steel pipe, wire, cylinders and wheels, aluminum extrusions, wood flooring, magnesia bricks, thermal and coated paper and citric acid.

China is by far the world’s biggest producer of steel and is also a leading maker of clean energy equipment such as solar panels and wind towers, helped by Beijing’s ambition of tackling carbon emissions without slowing China’s growth.

Foreign competitors complain that its oversupply is the result of a market that is driven by forces such as government edicts and subsidies rather than fundamental supply and demand, and China has created surpluses that distort the global market.

China decided to bring the latest WTO complaint, which it says affects exports worth $7.3 billion, after winning a previous WTO dispute last year over U.S. duties on imports of Chinese steel pipes, off-road tires and woven sacks.

Many of China’s grievances might have been dealt with by a U.S. court decision last year, which struck down the Commerce Department’s ability to impose anti-subsidy duties on “non-market economies” like China.

But the U.S. Congress voted to restore it in March, ensuring U.S. duties on about two dozen Chinese goods stayed in place.

The case is one of several currently “live” disputes between the United States and China at the WTO.

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Beware the Amish-Made Label

(Image Credit: Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

From food to furniture to clothing, more and more goods are showing up in stores with an Amish label attached to their name. The problem: Most of these goods are not Amish and are, in reality, being created without the input or knowledge of the Amish people.

“This is certainly nothing new,” said Brad Igou, president of the Amish Experience, which provides tours of legitimately Amish-owned and -operated businesses in Bird-in-Hand, Pa.

“The word Amish implies honesty, integrity and well-made durable goods,” he added as explanation for the popularity of the term. “People who don’t do their homework might be buying things that are not Amish-made.”

The term “Amish Country” is popular among companies that are not selling the genuine article because it refers to a geographical location rather than to the people themselves, according to AmishAmerica.com.

The website quoted one Amish entrepreneur as saying, “I see this in the food industry.  There’s quite a few organizations here locally that will sell using ‘Amish.’  And what they’re trying to do is create the perception that it does come from Amish producers, when it doesn’t.  They don’t explicitly say so, they just say ‘Amish Country’ this, ‘Amish Country’ that. … ‘Amish’ is big, ‘Country’ is small.  So, the customer that buys this, his perception … is this comes from an Amish farm or an Amish producer.”

Aside from watching it being made or knowing the producer, there’s no way to know for sure. One of the best signs, however, is also the most counterintuitive.

“Most of the time,” Igou said, “Amish do not use the term Amish in the name of their business.”

source http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/07/beware-the-amish-made-label/

 

Tariff on Chinese solar panels raises fear of trade war

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The Obama administration, still smarting from controversial investments in solar power firms like the now bankrupt Solyndra, has sparked fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China, as the Commerce Department signals it will likely slap a 31 percent tariff on all solar panel imports from China.

While some, frustrated by the high U.S. unemployment, want punishment doled out to China, others say protectionism only hurts the consumers who are forced to pay more.

Such a tariff has been pushed by companies that manufacture solar panels in the U.S., including Solar World, which has a plant in Hillsboro, Ore.

“It’ll basically allow us to compete on technology,” Solar World president Gordon Brinser said, “just like everybody else in any other industry.”

Solar World and others have seen their market share plummet as sales of inexpensive Chinese panels have skyrocketed. The Commerce Department found Chinese companies are guilty of dumping panels on average 31 percent below fair market value.

It’s a charge China’s Suntech, the world’s largest solar company, rejects.

“The way the costs have come down so much and become so competitive is we’ve globalized,” Suntech’s chief commercial officer, Andrew Beebe, said. “We manufacture in China, we manufacture in Japan, we manufacture in the United States.”

While still a tiny piece of America’s energy portfolio, the solar industry has seen substantial growth as the price of panels has fallen. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s most recent annual report says solar-generating capacity in 2010 quadrupled in the utility sector and went up 60 percent in residential in just one year.

But many U.S. solar companies that don’t make panels fear the tariff will drive prices so high, consumers will stop buying. Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, said manufacturing panels account for a mere 3 percent of the 100,000 U.S. jobs tied to the solar industry.

“The U.S. now is becoming one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and this just puts a headwind on that,” Shah said.

The Brattle Group did a study for the coalition that predicted a 50 percent tariff would cost the U.S. 14,000 solar industry jobs. Manufacturers would initially see a small increase in employment, but as sales slowed, engineering and installation jobs would suffer.

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U.S. Imposes Anti-Dumping Duties On Chinese Solar Imports

Employees assemble photovoltaic panels at Suntech Power Holdings Co.’s factory in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China, in 2011.

The U.S. Commerce Department imposed tariffs of 31 percent to 250 percent on Chinese solar-product imports, siding with companies including SolarWorld AG (SWV) in the U.S. that said the items were sold below the cost of production.

The fees, announced today in an e-mailed statement, add to duties as high as 4.73 percent imposed earlier for getting unfair subsidies from China’s government. SolarWorld had asked for levies of more than 100 percent. Aaron Chew, a New York- based analyst at Maxim Group LLC, said before the decision that tariffs higher than 10 percent would be considered a victory for the U.S. companies.

“Commerce today put importers and purchasers on notice about the consequences of importing illegally subsidized and dumped products from China,” Gordon Brinser, the SolarWorld unit’s president, said in a statement.

The Commerce Department said a final determination on the tariffs would be made in early October. U.S. customs agents will collect a deposit or bond on solar cells made in China in the 90 days before today’s decision.

SolarWorld said its Hillsboro, Oregon-based U.S. unit can’t compete with Chinese exporters, including Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP), the world’s largest solar-panel maker, and Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) unless tariffs are imposed. Suntech was told to pay 31.22 percent, Trina’s levies were set at 31.14 percent and others were told to pay duties ranging from 31.18 percent to 249.96 percent.

Shares Rise

U.S.-based solar-product companies rose in New York trading after the announcement. First Solar Inc. (FSLR) climbed 94 cents, or 6.7 percent, to $14.92, and SunPower Corp. (SPWR)added 51 cents, or 10 percent, to $5.59.

Opponents of the punitive tariffs, such as the Washington- based Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, which includes Westinghouse Solar Inc. (WEST) and more than 100 other companies, claim the levies would cost U.S. jobs.

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