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Manufacturing

Addition by subtraction

By Andy Barks

January 2009 -Like any other multi-member association, the National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, D.C., has an itinerary--priorities for which it exerts extra time and energy in an effort to make things happen.

One of the chief concerns over the past year has been the 10+2 rule, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection(CBP) edict that was costing manufacturers money and productivity and needed a makeover. The name of the rule is derived from the 10 types of information importers are required to submit, and the two new types demanded from shipping companies, all within 24 hours of loading a shipping container at a foreign port. In its original form, the 10+2 rule was an enormous inconvenience for manufacturers.

Steady resolve
"The 10+2 rule, as originally drafted, would have cost U.S. manufacturers as much as $20 billion annually, created huge delays and missed shipments in the global supply chain, risked shutting down U.S. production and actually worsened security by increasing the amount of time containers sat around available for tampering at foreign ports," said John Engler, NAM president.

For Engler and the association, the modification had been a point of emphasis for more than a year. By working with Congress, NAM fueled the release of the refashioned rule Nov. 24, following a lengthy interagency process.

"We're pleased that, after nearly a year of NAM's unrelenting effort, a realistic assessment of the rule was made under the auspices of the White House's Office of Management and Budget," Engler said. "Congress and the Departments of Commerce, State, Treasury and Homeland Security, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Trade Representative listened carefully to what our member companies told them."

In its modified form, the rule features a six-month trial period for how data can be provided, enabling U.S. manufacturers to provide the most difficult or hard-to-attain figures on a "best available" basis. That's a far cry from the original drafting, which demanded the release of data before it was available.

Subsequently, the CBP will determine how to best interpret and apply the data as it moves through the six-month interim period.

"While the rule is substantially changed, work still has to be done to create a final rule that works for both national security and U.S. manufacturers," said Engler. "Even though the modifications alleviate onerous burdens, some serious problems still haven't been corrected in the interim rule published today."

An ongoing process
Perhaps most encouraging for Engler and NAM is the progressive attitude congress exhibited throughout the proceedings. From Engler's perspective, the successful collaboration is a byproduct of a common understanding of what's important.

"Manufactured goods comprise about 90 percent of U.S. merchandise trade, and the NAM will be at the center of working with companies and the incoming administration to further improve the rule to lessen trade and production disruptions while still providing the enhanced security we all want," he said.

There are a lot of outlying factors to be determined, as Engler alluded, with a fresh administration and new members of Congress. NAM will have to continue to convince government officials that its priorities should be their priorities. But for the time being, NAM is happy its extended struggle with the much-maligned 10+2 rule has finally paid off. FFJ

Sources

  • National Association of Manufacturers
    Washington, D.C.
    phone: 202/637-3000
    fax: 202/637-3182
    www.nam.org
    e-mail: manufacturing@nam.org

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