Congress Unites! In Order to Violate International Law
The U.S. Congress is just about to have their much-dreaded midterm elections, and they will probably not do much before November 2 except to spend millions of dollars on annoying campaign ads. But it looks like before they break for the election, Congress may vote on two bills that may violate U.S. obligations under the WTO and NAFTA.
First, Congress is about to approve the “Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act“, which would require all foreign manufacturers exporting goods to the U.S. to have a registered U.S. agent able to receive service in case of a domestic U.S. lawsuit. Aimed primarily at sketchy drywall manufacturers in China, the law is causing lots of angst in Canada, whose ambassador has recently warned the law would violate both the WTO and NAFTA. I am actually not exactly sure why this law, which does not seem to impose any obligations on foreign manufacturers not already borne by domestic ones, would violate the WTO or NAFTA. But the Canadians are sure up in arms about it.
Second, Congress may be close to passing a bill authorizing anti-dumping or countervailing duties on Chinese imports due to an alleged undervalued Chinese currency. This too is highly sketchy as a matter of WTO law, and is sure to spark at least a WTO case, if not an actual trade war.
Ironically, these two acts have very broad bipartisan support, maybe the only two acts that the Democrats and Republicans currently agree on. It’s nice to know Americans can come together, even if it is to result in violating international treaty obligations.