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Barry McVay's FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH

DATE: September 6, 2000

FROM: Barry McVay, CPCM

SUBJECT: Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR); Prohibition of Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor

SOURCE: Federal Register, September 6, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 171, page 54103

AGENCIES: Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

ACTION: Proposed Rule

SYNOPSIS: It is proposed that the FAR be amended to implement the requirements of Executive Order 13126, Prohibition of Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor, which directs agencies to "take appropriate actions to enforce the laws prohibiting the manufacture or importation of goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by forced or indentured child labor."

DATES: Submit comments on or before November 6, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments to General Services Administration, FAR Secretariat (MVRS), 1800 F Street, NW, Room 4035, ATTN: Laurie Duarte, Washington, DC 20405, e-mail: farcase.1999-608@gsa.gov. Cite FAR case 1999-608 in all correspondence related to this proposed rule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Linda Klein at 202-501-3775.

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: On June 12, 1999, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13126 to "continue the executive branch's commitment to fighting abusive child labor practices" (the executive order defines "child" as a person under the age of 18). The executive order directed the Department of Labor, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State, to publish "a list of products, identified by their country of origin, that those Departments have a reasonable basis to believe might have been mined, produced, or manufactured by forced or indentured child labor", and directed that the FAR be amended to implement the provisions of the executive order.

The executive order states that its provisions do not apply to acquisitions that are less than the $2,500 micro-purchase threshold, nor to any contract for any product mined, produced, or manufactured in a country that is party to the Agreement on Government Procurement or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), if the contract amount is equal to or greater than the applicable threshold specified in the Agreement on Government Procurement (that is, $177,000 for Aruba, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom) or NAFTA ($25,000 for Canadian products, and $54,372 for Mexican products). Also, acquisitions of Israeli products over $50,000 would be exempt. (EDITOR'S NOTE: For more on the application of the Trade Agreements Act and NAFTA to federal acquisitions, see FAR Subpart 25.4, Trade Agreements. For more on the recent threshold adjustments, see the March 31, 2000, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Procurement Thresholds for Implementation of Trade Agreements Act".)

To implement the provisions of the executive order, FAR Subpart 22.15, Prohibition of Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor, would be added, and it would consist of the following:

In addition to the proposed FAR rule, the Department of Labor published today a preliminary "List of Products Requiring Contractor Certification as to Forced or Indentured Child Labor" (see Federal Register page 54108):

ProductCountry of Origin
BambooBurma
Beans (including yellow, soya, and green beans)Burma
Bricks (hand-made)Burma, Pakistan
ChiliesBurma
CornBurma
PineapplesBurma
RiceBurma
RubberBurma
Shrimp (aquaculture)Burma
SugarcaneBurma
TeakBurma

The Departments of Labor, State, and Treasury compiled the list based on oral and written testimony provided at a public hearing on August 10, 1999, Department of Labor child labor reports, and other sources. The Department of Labor is seeking comments on whether these products or other products (particularly the South Asian carpet industry) should be included on the final List, and whether the products on the preliminary list are designated with appropriate specificity.

Written comments should be submitted to the International Child Labor Program, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, Room S-5303, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210; fax: 202-219-4923. For further information, contact Ami Thakkar, International Child Labor Program, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 202-208-4843; fax: 202-219-4923.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Caution, Politicians At Work! Executive Order 13126 was issued by President Clinton to demonstrate his concern for the welfare of the world's children. So the Departments of Labor, State, and Treasury study the issue and hold meetings, and draft proposed revisions to the FAR (including a new certification -- wasn't the government trying to get away from those?) to prevent the government from buying Burmese bamboo and pineapples (no doubt the pineapple growers in Hawaii are thankful)! What about banning toys made by Chinese children? Oh, that's right, the U.S. wants to be friends with the Chinese! While it is unlikely that any of the NAFTA and the Agreement on Government Procurement signatories permit forced child labor, what is the logic for giving them an automatic free pass? But nobody likes the military junta in Burma, so it's okay to ban their products! But how much bamboo does the government buy from Burma? How much pineapple, or corn (especially since the U.S. Midwest is so much closer), or green beans, chilies? The value of the prohibited products is minuscule, far less than the amount spent concocting this regulatory mishmash!

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barry McVay at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to BarryMcVay@FedGovContracts.com.

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