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July 21, 2010 

Today's News and Notes

Miscellaneous Tariff Bill - The House of Representatives is expected to consider the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (now known as the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act) (HR 4380) today. The bill will be considered under the suspension of the rules provision, which means that the bill may not be amended and requires a two-thirds vote for passage. The National Association of Manufacturers has sent a Key Vote letter to House members urging passage of the bill.

AM Update: After 40 minutes of debate this morning, the final vote on HR 4380 was postponed due to request for recorded vote. Under the suspension rules, any request for the yeas and nays results in a postponement of the final vote.

PM Update: In a surprise move the House passed the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (HR 4380) this afternoon by a vote of 378 to 43. AP story here. NAM statement on passage here.

Iran Sanctions - The Washington Post reports that Iran's ability to ship vital goods has been significantly curtailed due to the insurance and other sanctions contained in the recently enacted Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) of 2010 (H.R. 2194).

North Korea Sanctions - While no details have been released, Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton announced today that the U.S. will impose additional sanctions on North Korea. The sanctions are likely aimed at disrupting North Korea's weapons and contraband trade and targeting the finances of the Pyongyang regime.

Update: The State Department announced that the additional sanctions will include:

  • Further State and Treasury designations of North Korean entities and individuals supporting proliferation, subjecting them to an asset freeze; 
  • New efforts with key governments to stop North Korean trading companies engaged in illicit activities from operating in those countries and prevent their banks from facilitating these companies’ illicit transactions; 
  • Expanding cooperation to prevent the travel of individuals designated under the Security Council resolutions, as well as other key North Korea proliferators; 
  • Greater emphasis on North Korea’s repeated abuse of its diplomatic privileges in order to engage in activities banned by the Security Council, and expanding cooperation with countries so that they will not choose to purchase banned items from North Korea or to sell North Korea proliferation-related goods.

Export Controls/Diversion Hearing - The House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade will hold a hearing tomorrow on "Transshipment and Diversion: Are U.S. Trading Partners Doing Enough to Prevent the Spread of Dangerous Technologies?"  The witnesses include Assistant Secretary for Export Administration Kevin Wolf and Vann H. Van Diepen, Acting Assistant Secretary at the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.
Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010 - The House Committee on Energy and Commerce reported favorably an amended version of H.R. 4678 by a vote of 31 to 22. The bill requires foreign manufacturers of certain products imported into the U.S. to establish registered agents to accept service of process. While the amendments passed today addressed a number of industry concerns with the bill, the bill is likely to be opposed by a number of trade associations. The full text of the amended version of the bill can be found here.

Conflict Minerals Disclosure and Certification - Section 1502 of the the financial reform bill (H.R. 4173) signed into law by President Obama today included a provision aimed at trying to reduce the use of conflict minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The provision states that the SEC must issue regulations requiring publicly traded companies to disclose annually whether conflict minerals are necessary to the functionality or production of their product and to certify that the measures taken by the company to verify the source of those minerals is not the Democratic Republic of the Congo or adjoining countries. The provision defines "conflict minerals" as columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite, gold, wolframite, or their derivatives. This provision will impact a wide range of publicly traded manufacturing companies, including those using Congolese tantulum to produce electronics products, and those using tin and gold.

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