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

Why ‘Made in America’ Is Stitched Into the Law, but Not the Uniforms

More Transportation Security Administration uniforms have been made in Mexico in recent years than in the United States, despite rules requiring the Department of Homeland Security to “buy American.”CreditDavid Mcnew/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s push to “buy American” has been a key initiative of his administration, and Mr. Trump speaks frequently about ensuring that the federal government is buying American products.

So it might come as a surprise that the uniforms of those Secret Service agents that protect and surround him every day are probably made outside the United States, most likely in Mexico.

The United States government has several laws on the books that require the military and other national security agencies to buy from American sources, when possible. But a new report from the Government Accountability Office shows how a primary rule covering the Department of Homeland Security, called the Kissell Amendment, has been undercut by a slew of bureaucratic restrictions and obligations required by international trade agreements.

As a result, over roughly the past three years, more Secret Service uniforms have been made in Mexico than in any other country — including the United States. The same goes for uniforms procured for Transportation Security Administration workers. The majority of uniforms for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are also made outside the United States, in countries like El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Cambodia.

“It really doesn’t have much impact at all,” Kimberly Gianopoulos, the director of the Government Accountability Office’s international affairs and trade team, said of the Kissell Amendment.

Read more of this post

Disney, Sears, Wal-Mart, Sean Combs used factory in Horrific Bangladesh fire

Bangladeshi women watch the bodies of some of the victims of Saturday’s fire in a garment factory being prepared to be buried, in Dhaka, Bangladesh

AP Exclusive

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Amid the ash, broken glass and melted sewing machines at what is left of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd.factory, there are piles of blue, red and off-white children’s shorts bearing Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory brand. Shorts from hip-hop star Sean Combs’ ENYCE label lay on the floor and are stacked in cartons.

An Associated Press reporter searching the factory Wednesday found these and other clothes, including sweaters from the French company Teddy Smith, among the equipment charred in the fire that killed 112 workers Saturday. He also found entries in account books indicating that the factory took orders to produce clothes for Disney, Sears and other Western brands.

Garments and documents left behind in the factory show it was used by a host of major American and European retailers, though at least one of them — Wal-Mart — had been aware of safety problems. Wal-Mart blames a supplier for using Tazreen Fashions without its knowledge.

The fire has elevated awareness of something labor groups, retailers and governments have known for years: Bangladesh’s fast-growing garment industry — second only to China’s in exports — is rife with dangerous workplaces. More than 300 workers there have died in fires since 2006.

Police on Wednesday arrested three factory officials suspected of locking in the workers who died in Saturday’s fire, the deadliest in the South Asian country’s less than 35-year history of exporting clothing.

Read more of this post

Obama to hit China with trade case over cars, parts

President Barack Obama launches a campaign swing through the pivotal battleground of Ohio on Monday — armed with a new trade enforcement case against China over allegedly improper subsidies to its auto and auto-parts sectors.

Mitt Romney has recently escalated his attacks on the incumbent as not doing enough to protect America’s battered manufacturing sector from unfair competition from Beijing. The message has special resonance in states like Ohio, where the auto-parts sector accounts for a sizeable chunk of the economy. (The White House says the industry directly employs 54,200 Ohioans and supports some 850,000 total jobs).

Obama decided to go after China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) because its subsidies are giving its auto parts a leg up — even in the U.S. market — over their American counterparts, the administration says.

 

The Obama Administration is also escalating another trade enforcement action, begun in July, against what it says are unfair anti-dumping and countervailing duties on some $3.3 billion in U.S. automobile exports to China.

The United States will ask the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel to consider its case against those duties, which Beijing imposed in December 2011. China acted in response to the auto bailout Obama championed, arguing the rescue amounted to unfair government support for the industry.

“The key principle at stake is that China must play by the rules of the global trading system,” an administration official said on condition of anonymity. “When it does not, the Obama Administration will take action to ensure that American businesses and workers are competing on a level playing field.”

 

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer first reported the news.

China moves in on U.S. manufacturer of high-tech car batteries

A123 Systems, a maker of advanced batteries for electric vehicles, has been struggling financially of late.  However, it may soon be rescued.  Unfortunately, the bailout could come from a Chinese auto-parts company.

Wanxiang Group Corp., one of China’s biggest auto parts makers, has offered a $450 million bid for A123 Systems Inc.

If a Chinese firm were to buy A123, it would put the firm’s lithium-ion technology and its U.S.-funded manufacturing plant, in the hands of a company that has been slowly acquiring U.S. auto parts firms throughout the Midwest.

According to Michael Wessel of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), the deal has worrying implications.  As Wessel explained to Reuters:

“This is a very troubling transaction that should be strictly scrutinized by the U.S. government.  This is a critical sector and one that American policy makers have focused on in terms of future economic opportunity and job creation.”

China’s auto parts industry already enjoys massive subsidies that give Chinese firms a leg up on their U.S. competition.  According to a study conducted for the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) by Usha C.V. Haley, government subsidies to the Chinese auto-parts industry have reached $27.5 billion.  Haley says that China’s central government has committed to disbursing an additional $10.9 billion in subsidies for industrial restructuring and technological development of the industry.

U.S. firms like A123 face the double whammy of subsidized competition from China, and then the potential for buyout by the same competitors.

According to David Vieau, A123’s chief executive, the firm would seek approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) in order to move forward on the sale to Wanxiang.  However, the deal already faces concerns from Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s panel on oversight and investigations, and is worried about the deal’s transfer of intellectual property.

The Wall Street Journal quotes Stearns as saying: “We need to make sure the federal government isn’t an unwitting accomplice to the theft of our own national secrets by providing [foreign-controlled companies] with multimillion-dollar government grants and loans.”

 

A company that two years ago was one of the most promising U.S. innovators in the clean-fuel auto industry was rescued from collapse Wednesday. Its buyer: A Chinese auto-parts company.

Wanxiang Group Corp., one of China’s biggest parts makers, offered a $450 million lifeline to A123 Systems Inc., a maker of advanced batteries for electric vehicles that received U.S.-government backing. The deal would put the firm’s lithium-ion technology and its U.S.-funded manufacturing plant into the hands of a company that has slowly acquired a passel of auto assets across the Midwest.

Wanxiang’s investment, part of a move into clean energy …

 

FDA Says Brazil’s Orange Juice Is Safe, But Still Illegal

 

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

NPR      by DAN CHARLES  February 22, 2012

If you happen to notice sometime later this year that you’re suddenly paying a lot more for orange juice, you can blame America’s food safety authorities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.

The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.

The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal “tolerance” for residues of this pesticide in orange products. Read more of this post

How to Save U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

By Howard Wial @CNNMoney February 23, 2012: 5:34 AM ET

Howard Wial is a fellow for the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

At first glance, manufacturing jobs would appear to be a dying breed.

The United States lost 6 million manufacturing jobs between early 2001 and late 2009. And despite small gains during the last two years, the trend in manufacturing employment for the last 30 years has been downward.

That has led some to argue that long-term job loss in the industry is inevitable. But our research shows otherwise.

There are two common versions of the “inevitability” argument. One holds that U.S. manufacturing wages are too high to be internationally competitive. The other maintains that manufacturing job losses are the result of productivity growth. Both arguments are wrong. Read more of this post

This Column Was 100% Made in America

A Hyundai ad that ran during Super Bowl coverage showed workers from the company's plant in Montgomery, Ala.

A Hyundai ad that ran during Super Bowl coverage showed workers from the company's plant in Montgomery, Ala.

By   Published: February 15, 2012

BLUE-COLLAR workers in fields like manufacturing — particularly when they make products on American soil — are again becoming a favorite subject for white-collar workers on Madison Avenue.

The trend was born of the economic worries that followed the financial crisis in 2008. Recently, it is gaining steam — appropriate, since the ads often use blasts of steam to signal something is being built — with proposals in Washington to offer incentives to encourage the location or relocation of factories in the United States.

“We continue to see very heavy emotional response to anything that would leverage against the bad economy,” said Robert Passikoff, president at Brand Keys, a brand and customer-loyalty consulting company in New York. Read more of this post

Obama Takes Fresh Aim at China, Touts “Insourcing”

 

ReutersBy Laura MacInnis | Reuters

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – President Barack Obama kept up his attack on Chinese trade practices during a campaign-style visit on Wednesday to a Midwest factory, where his call to bring jobs back home was intended to resonate with voters in an election year.

The day after meeting China’s leader-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping, at the White House, Obama cited America’s chief rival a number of times in a speech to promote the potential of “insourcing” jobs back to America from overseas.

“I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules,” he told workers at Master Lock, a company he lauded in his State of the Union address last month for having moved back about 100 union jobs from China since mid-2010.

“That’s why I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit with one job: investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China,” he said in prepared remarks.

Obama took a firm line over trade on Tuesday during his Oval Office meeting with Xi, who is in line to assume the Chinese presidency in March 2013.

This tough stance should appeal to voters in election battleground states like Wisconsin, where Beijing is often blamed for killing American jobs.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a former private equity executive, accuses Obama of being too soft on China and lacking the executive or other leadership experience to steer the U.S. economy toward lasting recovery.

Master Lock, a unit of Fortune Brands Home & Security, is the world’s largest manufacturer of padlocks and related products to secure homes, cars and bicycles. Its story is a positive one for Obama, who must tout his economic leadership to secure another White House term.

The firm says its Milwaukee plant is running at full capacity for the first time in 15 years – an example the White House is eager to replicate as the November 6 election nears.

“They’re deciding that if the cost of doing business here is no longer much different than the cost of doing business in countries like China, they’d rather place their bets on America,” said Obama.

It was his first stop in a three day campaign-style swing when the Democrat will raise funds in California and stop at aircraft manufacturer Boeing in Washington state.

How to cope with a rising China – and compete against cheap Chinese exports – is one of the toughest challenges for Obama to navigate as the election approaches, particularly as opinion polls showing rising U.S. voter frustration with the Asian economic powerhouse.

(Reporting By Laura MacInnis; Editing by Peter Cooney and Cynthia Osterman)

Can Manufacturing Jobs Come Back? What We Should Learn From Apple and Foxconn

business
The Huffington Post

David Paul – President, Fiscal Strategies Group  –  Posted: 02/13/2012 8:30 am

Apple aficionados suffered a blow a couple of weeks ago. All of those beautiful products, it turns out, are the product of an industrial complex that is nothing if not one step removed from slave labor.

But of course there is nothing new here. Walmart has long prospered as a company that found ways to drive down the cost of stuff that Americans want. And China has long been the place where companies to go to drive down cost.

For several decades, dating back to the post World War II years, relatively unfettered access to the American consumer has been the means for pulling Asian workers out of deep poverty. Japan emerged as an industrial colossus under the tutelage of Edward Deming. The Asian tigers came next. Vietnam and Sri Lanka have nibbled around the edges, while China embraced the export-led economic development model under Deng Xiaoping.

While Apple users have been beating their breasts over the revelations of labor conditions and suicides that sullied their glass screens, the truth is that Foxconn is just the most recent incarnation of outsourced manufacturing plants — textiles and Nike shoes come to mind — where working conditions are below American standards. Read more of this post

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