Global logistics: NCBFAA objects to pending new legislation on trade

This proposal, H.R. 4678, requires foreign manufacturers whose products are sold in the U.S. to designate a registered agent for service of process in U.S. courts

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In a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin and Ranking Member Dave Camp, National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA) President Jeffrey Coppersmith urged them to exercise their Committee’s jurisdiction over the Foreign Manufacturer Legal Accountability Act and conduct a review to evaluate its impact on trade.

This proposal, H.R. 4678, requires foreign manufacturers whose products are sold in the U.S. to designate a registered agent for service of process in U.S. courts. Without a registered agent, the foreign manufacturer’s products would be prohibited entry into the U.S.

“When our foreign trading partners reciprocate with their own ‘registered agent’ provision, as they are likely to do, it will be very difficult and expensive for small and medium-sized companies to maintain registered agents in all the foreign markets to which they export,” said Coppersmith. “An even greater disincentive will be the exposure to litigation in these countries whose legal systems may not have safeguards and transparency as do our own.”?

In the NCBFAA’s view, it is unlikely that a foreign court would even enforce a U.S. court judgment against the foreign manufacturer making it impossible for H.R. 4678 to even realize its stated goal of holding foreign manufacturers accountable. Instead, President Coppersmith recommends relying on mechanisms already in place to address this concern.

“The legislation overlooks the fact that Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among other agencies, already have broad powers to seize, detain or refuse entry to defective or tainted products,” he noted. “U.S. importers are responsible to these and other agencies for the products they bring into the U.S. and are subject to potentially severe penalties for failure to comply with U.S.”

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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