Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act

NAMM is monitoring two bills currently under serious consideration in Congress. The proposed legislation would require foreign manufacturers of consumer products, including musical instruments and accessories, to maintain an agent in the United States for service of process in any litigation. NAMM’s Public Affairs team is working actively with other industry organizations to slow or stop its movement.

The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act has been introduced in the House (HR 4678, by Rep. Betty Sutton, D-OH) and in the Senate (S 1606, by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI). On July 21, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved this bill (HR 4678) and passage this fall by the full House is likely. Senate consideration is less certain, though Sen. Whitehouse is reportedly working to add the proposal to a broader small business bill that has widespread support.

In addition to requiring foreign exporters to designate a registered agent in one of the 50 states, presumably the state through which most of their company’s products enter the U.S., importers would need to certify that each exporter from which it purchases products does in fact comply with the registered agent’s requirements. The bill currently states that the importer certification would have to be filed with each incoming shipment, though many importers are trying to scale back the certification requirement to an annual filing.

The House version of the legislation would ban all imports from any foreign manufacturer who did not maintain a U.S. registered agent.

The bills’ supporters include trial lawyers and domestic steel and textile industries, which see the legislation as impeding imports from abroad. Opponents include retailers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Consumer Electronics Association and others.

To assist in the effort to stop these bills from moving forward, NAMM encourages you to contact your local representative. In the meantime, NAMM will continue to watch the progress of this legislation, lobby for changes to the content and communicate with NAMM Members as information becomes available.