Drug Bill Nearly
Trips BusinessU.S. BUSINESS GROUPS just managed to avert House action on legislation that could have led to big new problems with the Customs Service.
Shortly before the congressional recess, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill aimed at boosting Customs' authority to crack down on the illegal drug trade. The bill is part of a House Democrat effort to show that President Reagan isn't the only one taking steps against the trade.
In the bill, however, were provisions so broad - for example, on the seizure and forfeiture of goods - that they could have been applied against normal commercial transactions.
But the bill has been quietly amended, with only one provision still a potential problem for legitimate trade - an extended statute of limitations on Customs actions.
The measure is expected to reach the House floor next month. There has been no action on it yet in the Senate Finance Committee.
CONTRARY TO THE WIDESPREAD BELIEF, the U.S.-Japanese hassle over semiconductor trade is not over, over here.
Three weeks ago, the two countries reached an accord whereby Japan promised to stop dumping semiconductors in the United States and to open its own market wider to U.S. semiconductor producers.
The United States, in return, dropped two dumping cases against Japanese semiconductor exports as well as a section 301 unfair trade practices probe of Japanese semiconductor policy.
The U.S. International Trade Commission, however, is continuing its investigation of charges that Japanese semiconductor manufacturers are violating Texas Instruments, Inc., patents.
If the ITC finds violations that are injuring U.S. semiconductor manufacturers, it could bar imports of Japanese dynamic random access memory chips as well as Japanese computers and telecommunications gear.
HOW'S THE BAKER PLAN DOING?
Well, reports the Overseas Development Council, not well.
Last October, Treasury Secretary James Baker proposed that commercial banks boost their net lending to 15 heavily indebted developing nations by $20 billion over three years.
In the first six months since his proposal, commercial bank exposure in those 15 countries dropped by $2 billion to $89 billion.
Mr. Baker's reputation is on the line, says the Overseas Development Council's Richard Feinberg. It could be one more reason to expect that commercial banks will agree soon to offer $6 billion in new credits to Mexico.
KEEPING UP WITH Japanese technological innovations: President Reagan has signed a bill aimed at helping U.S. companies do just that.
The bill authorizes $1 million to expand a Commerce Department program for translation and distribution of Japanese scientific and engineering literature.
Current U.S. efforts in this direction are not coordinated, says the bill's author, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and they only cover about 20 percent of the available material.
SOME WASHINGTON STATE cedar shake and shingle producers are kicking around an interesting idea: asking the U.S. government to waive the current 35 percent duty on shakes and shingles if Canada will allow U.S. producers to bid on Canadian cedar logs.
Peter Murphy, coordinator for North American affairs, U.S. Trade Representative's Office, says that certainly should be looked into if industry makes the proposal.
I'd see no problem with it, Mr. Murphy, the principal negotiator in U.S.-Canadian trade talks, told a congressional hearing.
NO MATTER HOW UPBEAT a recent government report on ocean incineration of hazardous waste, the record is sad.
Congress' Office of Technology Assessment concluded recently that ocean incineration could be an attractive interim means of disposing of such materials.
But the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't think so and it was that agency's refusal to issue permits that caused a two-ship venture to go belly up, costing its promoters and the government millions.
Now the Maritime Administration has two specially built incinerator ships on its hands because their owners defaulted last year. The agency shelled out some $64 million to satisfy the holders of the government-insured debt on the nearly completed vessels.