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

By Curtis M. Dombek

The 2011 Defense Authorization Act signed by the President this week contains a requirement in Section 846 for the Department of Defense to incorporate a clause in specified solar energy contracts requiring photovoltaic devices provided under the contract to comply with the Buy American Act, 41 U.S.C. 10a et seq., subject to the exceptions recognized under the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, 19 U.S.C. 2501 et seq. or otherwise provided by law. Photovoltaic devices are defined for purposes of the legislation as “devices that convert light directly into electricity through a solid-state, semiconductor process.”
 


Continue Reading New Defense Authorization Act Imposes Buy American Act Mandate for Photovoltaics

By David S. Gallacher

On March 25, 2010, the Office of Management and Budget ("OMB") offered three small, yet significant, amendments to the rules implementing the "Buy American" requirement of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Section 1605 of the "Recovery Act" or "ARRA"). See 75 Fed. Reg. 14323. The new rules do liberalize the requirement – at least a little bit – allowing increased flexibility in delivering products from Canada and Taiwan under State or local construction projects funded by the Recovery Act. But be aware that these new amendments are prospective – if you already have a contract funded by the Recovery Act, you will more than likely need to modify your contract to take advantage of these new revisions (assuming you are able). If you are pursuing future business opportunities funded by the Recovery Act, then you may be able to take advantage of the new rules. Easy, right? Not exactly. If you have to deal with these issues in real life, your head is probably already spinning. Let’s sit down and talk for a minute. 
 


Continue Reading Recovery Act and Updates to “Buy American”

Nearly one year ago on February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub. L. No. 111-5), more commonly known as the Stimulus Act, the Recovery Act, or ARRA. One of the key features of the Act included a "Buy American" requirement, requiring domestically manufactured "iron, steel, or manufactured goods" to be used in Recovery Act funded projects (located at Section 1605 of the Act). This requirement has proven to be a collossal headache for vendors supporting Recovery Act projects and has also proven to be immensely complicated for the good men and women in Government (including those at the State and local levels), who are faced with the task of figuring out how, where, and when the Recovery Act Buy American requirement applies. 
 


Continue Reading Six Questions To Ask In Figuring Out Whether The Recovery Act Buy American Requirement Applies To You