International Procurement

Every two years, the U.S. Trade Representative updates the dollar values at which certain international trade agreements apply to certain types of U.S. government contracts. This means that certain contracts over the dollar thresholds are subject to the trade agreements, in other words, foreign-made products are placed on equal footing with U.S.-made goods. On the other hand, contracts beneath the dollar thresholds remain subject to certain “Buy American” provisions, preferring U.S.-made goods over foreign-made alternatives. Because most of you reading this post probably sell the Government products and components sourced from the global marketplace (where “Made in China” and “Made in Taiwan” may seem much more common than “Made in America”), you might want to know where these thresholds will sit until 2018. And since the U.S. Trade Representative took the unusual step of reducing these thresholds for 2016, this may be one of those rare occasions where a change in the regulations actually works to your advantage.
Continue Reading Trade Agreements Act Updates for 2016 – New Year, Lower Thresholds

The US is generally pretty keen on international free trade agreements. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, free trade agreements have the ability to open up foreign markets to US goods and services, allowing new and expanding opportunities for US companies. But “free trade” does not always mean “free trade” – it usually means “free-er trade, subject to numerous exceptions,” with the exceptions proving a constant irritant to our free trade partners. Case in point: two recent events – one in the European Union and one in Canada – demonstrate that “free trade” (subject to numerous caveats) is still a bone of contention, even among long-established trading partners. While “free-est trade” may be too much to ask for, maybe “free-er trade” with fewer strings attached would at least be a step in the right direction.
Continue Reading Free(er?) Trade – US, EU and Canada Quibble Over Market Access and Domestic Preferences

By David Gallacher

Two months ago, we published a brief list of compliance tips to keep in mind when dealing with Buy American requirements. We got an awful lot of


Continue Reading Buy American Redux – 15 Tips for Navigating the Buy American Maze

By David Gallacher

1. There is no single “Buy American” requirement – there are numerous statutes with differing requirements. Make sure you know which one applies.

2. Whether you are a prime or a subcontractor, certify only to the specific “Buy American” requirements in the RFP; do not make a broader certification than is required.


Continue Reading “Buy American” Compliance Tips

By David Gallacher

2012 saw several updates with regard to free trade agreements (“FTAs”) between the U.S. and its international trading allies. The most notable of these was the U.S.-Korea FTA (“KORUS”), but several other changes were made to the U.S. procurement regulations implementing other free trade agreements. Regrettably, negotiations with China remain stalled with no firm promises on the horizon. Following is a summary of some of the key changes over the last year.


Continue Reading Free Trade Agreement Updates for 2012

By David Gallacher

In December 2011 the World Trade Organization reached an agreement in principle to implement “historic revisions” to the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement (WTO GPA), a trade agreement covering the public procurement markets in more than 40 WTO member states (including the United States). On March 30, 2012, the WTO GPA formally adopted these revisions. While the updates have been formally agreed upon, it may take months until two-thirds of the signatory countries ratify the agreement and make the changes official. Nevertheless, the international community appears to be moving forward with plans to implement, pending ratification.


Continue Reading Free Trade Agreement Updates – Changes to the WTO GPA and KORUS FTA

By David Gallacher and John Bonn

On January 2, 2011, the President signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-347, which set up a relief fund for victims, first responders, and construction workers who were injured in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. To pay the estimated $4.3 billion price tag for the Act, Section 301 of the Act imposed on any foreign person a tax equal to 2% of federal procurement payment received by that foreign person. See 26 U.S.C. § 5000C. In addition, any person who makes or otherwise is a withholding agent with respect to such a payment is required to withhold the 2% tax from the federal procurement payment and remit the tax withheld to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) under tax laws and regulations applicable to withholding of United States taxes from payments made to foreign persons. Although the tax has been in place for more than 14 months and the IRS has issued a revised Form 1042 with revised instructions to implement withholding and reporting obligations, the Government is only now turning to the details of how this tax will be accounted for in connection with the procurement process. And – as is often the case – there is quite a lot of devil in those details.


Continue Reading Terrorism and Taxes – Proposed FAR Rule Imposes 2% Tax on Foreign Offers to Fund 9/11 Relief Fund

By David Gallacher and Curt Dombek

Last year in January 2011, the President signed the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (Pub. L. No. 111-383, Section 846), which included a “Buy American” requirement for photovoltaic devices being purchased by the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”). We previously discussed this new requirement in our blog. Twelve months later, the DoD has issued an interim rule to implement this new requirement. See 76 Fed. Reg. 18858 (Dec. 20, 2011). The interim rule appears to be straightforward, implementing exceptions and manufacturing requirements with which most companies are already familiar under the Buy American Act or the Trade Agreements Act, but there is some fine print of which all companies selling photovoltaic devices to the DoD should be aware.


Continue Reading “Buy American” and Photovoltaic Devices – Interim Rule Issued by DoD

By David Gallacher

2012 will see changes regarding U.S. free trade agreements relating to, first, the dollar thresholds at which the various agreements apply to federal purchases and, second, the likely expansion of the scope of the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement ("WTO GPA"). The updated dollar thresholds are important for government contractors because the thresholds determine when a contract is subject to the Buy American Act ("BAA") or the Trade Agreements Act ("TAA"). As to the WTO GPA, its expansion should provide significant increased access to the U.S and many of its trading partners in international procurements, although the hoped for accession of China to the WTO GPA remains stalled


Continue Reading New 2012 Updates to U.S. Free Trade Agreements Expected; No Progress With China

The following is the first in a series of postings which will provide a brief look into UN procurement intended to help potential contractors assess the viability of doing business with the UN.

In an era of shrinking procurement budgets, federal contractors are increasingly seeking new opportunities abroad. But many companies understandably view navigation of the numerous rules, regulations and laws associated with international procurement as daunting at best and unfeasible at worst. Luckily, there exists a middle ground allowing companies the opportunity to expand globally without ever dialing a country code or resorting to Skype – the United Nations.

Continue Reading A Brief Look At United Nations Procurement: Going International … Sort Of