Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Customs Brokers Oppose Agent Requirement

(Journal of Commerce – R.G.Edmonson)

Proposed foreign manufacturers act could backfire, say forwarders

Customs brokers are asking the House Ways and Means Committee to weigh in on legislation that would require foreign manufacturers to have registered agents in the U.S. to represent them in state and federal courts.

In a letter to the committee’s leadership Jeff Coppersmith, president of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, said that requiring foreign companies to have a U.S. proxy to appear in legal proceedings would prompt other countries to reciprocate.

“It will be very difficult and expensive for small and medium-sized companies to maintain registered agents in all the foreign markets to which they export,” Coppersmith said. U.S. companies would also face uncertainty in the way foreign legal systems would treat them.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee last week took testimony on the proposed Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act. The bill is supported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which says lack of a U.S. agent makes it difficult to bring foreign manufacturers to account for unsafe products.