February 4, 2023

Washington Wire: FTC Increases ‘Made in USA’ Enforcement



FTC Increases ‘Made in USA’ Enforcement
On July 1, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finalized a rule increasing the enforcement of the accurate labeling of products “Made in USA.” Under the finalized rule, companies that incorrectly use “Made in USA” or “Made in America” labels will be subject to fines of as much as $43,280 for every violation. The rule, which requires marketers that use the “Made in US” label to prove that their products are “all or virtually all” made in the United States, does not impose any new requirements on businesses but rather codifies existing FTC guidance on U.S.-origin claims on labels.
Under the rule, marketers are prohibited from making unqualified claims on labels unless the final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the U.S., all significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the U.S., and all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the U.S. The new regulation is set to be soon published in the Federal Register and go into effect later this summer. 



Duties on Cut-to-Length Carbon Steel Plate from China to Remain
The International Trade Commission (ITC) and the Department of Commerce have determined to keep antidumping duties in place on cut-to-length (CTL) carbon steel plate from China as the revocation of the duty order “would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury.” This determination continues the duties ranging from 17.33 to 128.59 percent, which have been in place since 2003. 
The initial antidumping investigations began on certain CTL steel plate from China, Russia and Ukraine in 1996, with the U.S. signing agreements with each country to suspend the investigations and any resulting duties in 1997. While China withdrew from their agreement in 2003, both Russia and Ukraine are still subject to the suspension agreements with the U.S. Commerce and ITC also determined to not terminate the suspended investigations on CTL carbon steel plate from Russia and Ukraine. With the investigations remaining suspended, but not terminated, the U.S. can move to issue duties on CTL carbon steel plate from Russia or Ukraine should either country withdraw or violate the suspension agreements. 
In another trade case on CTL steel plate, the U.S. is set to lower countervailing duties on certain cut-to-length carbon-quality steel plate from several companies in South Korea. In the preliminary determination of an administrative review, Commerce adjusted the net countervailable subsidy rates to 0.28 to 0.5 percent from the 3.26 percent established in February 2020. A final determination is expected in late October. 



EPA to Move Forward on Vehicle Emission Standard
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will move forward with a two-step approach to federal vehicle emission standards. In the first step of the two-part process, the EPA has sent a tailpipe emissions rule to the White House Office of Management of Budget for review that will reportedly require passenger vehicles to have an average efficiency of 51 miles per gallon by 2026. The rule currently in place, issued by the Trump administration, requires an average of about 44 miles per gallon by 2026. The new rule will return emissions standards to the similar requirements set under the Obama administration which mandated the same average efficiency of 51 miles per gallon by 2025. 
In addition, the EPA will also begin work on a more stringent standard that will go through at least 2030 or possibly 2032. Details on what a more ambitious rule may contain remain unclear and could largely depend on the amount of funding to support electric vehicle (EV) production and use, such as charging stations and tax incentives for manufacturers and buyers of EVs, in the infrastructure package being negotiated in Congress. 



Department of Labor Reviewing Overtime Rule
The Department of Labor (DoL) is reviewing the overtime exemption rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act, to increase the minimum salary threshold for workers to qualify for overtime pay when working more than 40 hours per week. DoL is considering increasing the threshold to $50,000 with regular increases, higher than the revision passed by the Obama Administration.
Obama finalized the overtime exemption rule in 2016, more than doubling the threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 per year for Executive, Administrative, Professional & Clerical Employees (EAP) and for highly compensated workers from $100,000 to $134,000. One Voice was part of a business coalition lawsuit against the rule, which was ultimately blocked from implementation by the courts. The Trump administration then issued their own rule setting the threshold for EAP employees at $35,568 annually and $107,432 per year for highly compensated employees.