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Greg Webb
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Foreign Products Law to Keep U.S. Citizens Safe Debated by Congress

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In an effort to protect U.S. citizens from harmful (defective) foreign products, the House of Representatives has proposed a bill that would require foreign manufacturers to have a U.S. agent in order to import their products. The bill comes in response to a loophole in current law that does not hold foreign manufacturers to the same standards as domestic manufacturers. Recently, explosions of toxic and dangerous foreign products have been difficult to handle, because it is currently extremely difficult to bring a case against a foreign manufacturer. Translating and serving the legal papers is time-consuming, and even when pursued, foreign companies often claim they are not subject to our courts’ jurisdiction. In other words, they are free to sell their product in the United States without upholding our laws, which is clearly problematic.

According to an article from TheHill.com, The European Union has complained that the law would be a burden to small and medium-sized companies. Indian business groups also have made their voices heard, stating that the costs of compliance for Indian companies could mount to $500 million, potentially. Even some U.S. groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, are in opposition. The group feels that the law would complicate procedures for domestic manufacturers and the association refuses to support the bill as it is currently written.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Betty Sutton, a democrat from Ohio, made the following statement:

“Every year, many Americans are injured, sometimes fatally, by dangerous products that have been manufactured abroad and imported into the U.S. We cannot allow foreign manufacturers to continue to undercut U.S. manufacturers by disregarding the safety of their products, thereby endangering our consumers and costing us jobs.”

Foreign manufacturers should absolutely be held to the same safety standards as those in the U.S. While lawmakers may not have reached the best solution yet, they are certainly moving in the right direction. Foreign manufacturers, if they receive the benefits (i.e., profits) from doing business in this country, then they should be held to similar standards as domestic companies, including being held responsible and accountable for harm to United States citizens and/or their property.