February 2020 Government Affairs
China Reduces Tariffs on $75 Billion of U.S. Imports
Effective Feb. 14, China has reduced tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. imports that were originally levied in September of last year. The tariff rates on U.S. soybeans, pork and fish were reduced from 10% to 5% while tariffs on auto parts were reduced from 5% to 2.5%.
This action follows the signing of a “Phase One” trade agreement between the United States and China in January and amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which is putting increased pressure on the Chinese economy.
House of Representatives Passes PRO Act
On Feb. 6, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, by a largely party-line vote of 224-194. The legislation would make it easier for workers to unionize, change how employers classify workers, rollback state right-to-work laws and block laws that allow workers to not pay union dues. The legislation is not expected to be taken up in the Senate this year.
BSCAI members can find a section-by-section summary of the bill here. For further questions, contact Kevin McKenney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canada Could Delay USMCA Ratification Until April
Final ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in Canada could be delayed due to disputes among opposition groups in Parliament. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party lost control of their majority government in last October’s election and have since had to work in coalition with other parties in Parliament to pass legislation. These smaller parties have raised concerns about the USMCA’s labor rights provisions along with the lack of protections for Canadian aluminum in the deal’s automobile language.
While the USMCA is still expected to be ratified by Canada sometime this year, the opposition groups have been laying procedural roadblocks in Parliament which could delay the agreement’s passage until April. Both the United States and Mexico have already approved the trade agreement but ratification by Canada is still needed before the deal can go into effect.
DOL Publishes Amendments and Technical Corrections to OSHA Standards
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published technical corrections and amendments to 27 OSHA standards and regulations. This administrative rulemaking fixes minor misprints, omissions, outdated references, and tabular and graphic inaccuracies. The revisions apply to several industry sectors, including general industry, construction, shipyard employment and long shoring. According to OSHA, some revisions may reduce employer costs, and none expand employer obligations or impose new costs. You can find the technical corrections and amendments here.