By Marc Heller
Rep. William L. Owens spoke out against new Obama administration restrictions on imports, which he said will hurt north country manufacturers who use them.
The proposed regulations apply to Foreign Trade Zones, where businesses would have to follow a pre-application process before bringing goods into the country. Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, is concerned about the effect on North American Tapes in Watertown, which is seeking FTZ status, as well as businesses in FTZs in St. Lawrence, Oneida and Clinton counties, said his spokesman, Sean Magers.
Businesses in those zones may now import materials and use them in manufactured goods, using U.S. labor and materials, which can be exported without payment of customs duties. They are exempt from anti-dumping and countervailing duties rules.
"This new requirement would disrupt assembly lines, stifle export opportunities and hinder job creation for New York manufacturers," Mr. Owens said in a news release. "I have worked for decades with Foreign Trade Zones located near the border we share with Canada, and I can say with certainty that this would negatively impact American businesses and workers."
Mr. Owens and Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, wrote to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Commerce Secretary John Bryson in December, warning that the proposal would be "extremely" costly for manufacturers and undercut their ability to compete on world markets.
Businesses in Foreign Trade Zones employ about 330,000 workers, the lawmakers wrote.
North American Tapes makes athletic adhesive tape and is a top U.S. manufacturer for tape use in hockey. The company's plant is in the Jefferson County Industrial Park, where it has been holding off on plans to double production.
Last fall, Mr. Owens and New York's Democratic U.S. senators, Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer, wrote to the administration in support of the company's application.