IPC Weighs in on Growing Trade Disputes

In recent months, the U.S. Government has launched several initiatives that are roiling the waters of international trade.

NAFTA: In North America, the Trump administration prioritized one-on-one talks with Mexico, which produced a “handshake agreement” that was announced by President Trump on August 27. Canadian negotiators are in DC this week to rejoin the talks, with the hope of reaching a trilateral deal very soon. Both Mexico and Canada have insisted that any new deal must be negotiated among all three partners.

Because U.S. law requires a 90-day notice to Congress before any trade deals can be voted upon, President Trump needs to notify Congress of any new trade deal no later than September 1, if he wants to complete all action before a new Mexican president takes office on December 1.

Details of the agreement reached by the U.S. and Mexico are scant. However, we do know the new agreement would require 75% of auto content to be made in North America in order to qualify for duty-free treatment; NAFTA currently requires 62.5%. The new agreement also would require 70% of steel, glass, and aluminum used in imported autos to come from North America. Additionally, a substantial portion of each vehicle would be required to be manufactured in a “high wage factory.”

IPC is open to a NAFTA 2.0 and is working to secure stronger investor dispute-settlement protections. Over the summer, IPC has been participating in congressional advocacy with other industry associations, underscoring the importance of the North American electronics market and supply chain. We will continue to monitor developments closely and share information with IPC members.

China: Meanwhile, IPC also continues to raise our members’ concerns over the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. In addition to Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, the US Trade Representative has released three lists of Section 301 tariffs. These tariffs are punitive in nature, aiming to retaliate against China for what the U.S. regards as discriminatory technology transfer policies. List 1 has been finalized and went into effect on July 6th. The deadline for public comments has closed for List 2, and a final list will be released as early as this week. Public comments on List 3 are due by September 5.

The USTR has already established a process for applying for exclusions from the Section 232 tariffs and the first list of Section 301 tariffs. You can learn more about the process for 301 tariffs in the USTR’s Federal Register notice, which lays out procedures for securing an exemption from the 25% tariff. The USTR will consider requests based on the availability of that product outside of China, the severity of economic harm to U.S. interests, and the strategic significance of that product to Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” campaign.

IPC has been active throughout, soliciting feedback from members and submitting comments to the USTR on the proposed lists.

Meanwhile, China has said it may impose tariffs on an additional $16 billion in U.S. autos and energy products, and it has threatened to levy another $60 billion worth of tariffs on U.S. imports if President Trump goes through with his threat to impose 25% tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. One research firm claims that “China’s $60 billion figure hits 56% of U.S. exports, including 85% of all electrical machinery and 75% of electronics.”

Some IPC members are reporting that they may be forced to move work they currently perform in the U.S. to other countries because of the tariffs. What about your company?

What You Can Do: IPC would appreciate your support in identifying the tariff codes your company or the industry uses to import goods from China to the U.S. and what the additional impact would be if USTR imposes 25% tariffs. Review the third list of affected goods, and let us know your reactions ASAP. IPC will be submitting comments to the U.S. Trade Representative by September 5.

For more information, listen to a recent IPC webinar on these trade disputes (IPC member login and password required) and how they could affect your company.

IPC E-Textiles Committee Releases First White Paper on E-Textiles Washability

White paper will be provided free to IPC E-Textiles 2018 attendees.

The IPC E-Textiles Committee recognizes that for wearable smart textiles to flourish, there needs to be industry standards with reliability expectations for these products following multiple washing cycles. The committee also knows it will take years for these standards to take shape, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start the process now.

IPC has released IPC WP-024, IPC White Paper on Reliability and Washability of Smart Textile Structures – Readiness for the Market, the first in what the committee hopes will be a library of white papers on washability reliability of smart textiles. IPC-WP-024 provides insights from a team of researchers from ENSAIT-National School of Arts and Textile Industries, where they have conducted testing and studies on washability for years.

Free for IPC E-Textiles 2018 Attendees
IPC is making IPC-WP-024 available for free to all IPC E-Textiles 2018 attendees, because the committee will debate the white paper and the overall topic of washability reliability during its committee standards forum September 12, the day before the workshop.

Register for IPC E-Textiles 2018 today.

Add to the White Paper Library
The IPC E-Textiles Committee asks universities, testing laboratories, product manufacturers and materials suppliers from the e-textiles ecosystem to read IPC-WP-024 and submit your own white paper for consideration. Building this library will provide industry with myriad perspectives and findings on this topic and will also enable the committee to identify commonalities among the research to begin to identify ways in which to develop an IPC standard for washability reliability.

Email me (ChrisJorgensen@ipc.org) for more information or to propose a white paper topic and summary for the committee’s consideration.

IPC Committee Chair Asks: What Is Important to You in E-Textiles Standards?

By Chris Jorgensen, director, technology transfer

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! In the IoClothes 30 in 30 podcast, “Tackling Standards & Testing,” IPC D-70 E-Textiles Committee Vice Chair Ben Cooper has some questions for industry.

Watch this installment free in the IoClothes Community Discussions and be sure to leave your comments for Ben and the other community visitors.

Ben will also tackle this and many other topics at IPC E-Textiles 2018. Register today.

IPC’s Job Task Analysis Needs Your Expertise to Address the Skills Gap

IPC president and CEO John Mitchell invites industry to join IPC’s Job Task Analysis Committee to help define key roles in the electronics industry and perform industry driven job task analysis for each of these roles.

A Surprising Agreement Between the EU and U.S. on Transatlantic Trade

By Nicolas Robin, Senior Director, IPC Europe

On July 25, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. President Donald Trump struck an agreement on transatlantic trade during President Juncker’s visit to Washington D.C. after three and a half hours of negotiations.

Most interestingly for IPC, both parties agreed to work together on a reform of the WTO to address unfair trading practices, including intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, industrial subsidies, distortions created by state owned enterprises and overcapacity. These priorities have been clearly set having China in mind.

The EU and U.S. also committed to work towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods, strengthen their cooperation on energy and establish a dialogue on standards in order to ease trade, reduce bureaucratic obstacles and slash costs. President Juncker resisted US demands to include agricultural products in the scope of products that should be subject to zero tariffs, arguing he did not have the mandate from EU Member States for doing so while stressing the EU would ask for the abolition of the ‘Buy American Act’ in return.

In addition, the two sides agreed to immediately set up an Executive Working Group to facilitate commercial exchanges and assess existing tariff measures. This body will be chaired by Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and the USTR Robert Lighthizer. Both parties pledged to hold off from imposing further tariffs on each other as long as negotiations are ongoing. Yet, no deadline has been set to finalise the negotiations to Juncker’s satisfaction, while this working group is due to finalise its work in the coming months.

The view from Europe
The news was welcomed by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, which noted this is a step in the right direction towards de-escalation, adding that there are still a number of issues to be worked out. BUSINESSEUROPE, the group representing European employers, voided its support for a reform of the WTO with modern and more effective rules in order to improve the world trading system.

Reactions at the Member State level varied, with Germany praising the deal as a breakthrough, while France voicing skepticism, focused on the continuing of “illegal tariffs imposed by the U.S on steel and aluminium”, as well as the closed US public procurement market.

Towards a new TTIP?
These announcements mark a detente in the transatlantic relationship, which have considerably deteriorated in recent months after President Trump imposed tariffs on nearly all U.S. imports of steel and aluminium, including those from the EU, and threatened to impose a 20% tariff on cars imported from the EU. The EU had responded by imposing retaliatory tariffs on roughly €2.8 billion ($3.3 billion) of U.S. goods, including products like blue jeans, motorbikes, boats and bourbon and by launching legal proceedings against the U.S. in the WTO.

President Trump’s sudden openness to compromise seems to stem from the fact that EU, Chinese and Mexican countermeasures have impacted the revenues of U.S. car manufacturers and farmers, who called this week to put an end to ongoing trade wars.

The points agreed between the EU and the US (reduced custom duties, bringing technical standards closer through regulatory collaboration and removing bureaucratic obstacles) strongly resembles those of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), halted after President Trump took office in January 2017. However, the scope of the agreement is limited to industrial goods and does not encompass agriculture and services. Moreover, it is not intended to include a chapter on investments and arbitration tribunals, a point receiving widespread condemnation by NGOs and civil society.

In the meantime, questions remain in Europe over the legality of such an agreement, as the European Commission can only engage in trade talks, following a mandate by Member States. There are also questions as to the legal form this agreement will take. Once further elaborated, this transatlantic trade deal will still have to be endorsed by EU trade ministers and voted on by the Plenary of the European Parliament to enter into force.

Following up from the July discussions between the two Presidents, Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief trade advisor Léon Delvaux and another senior EU trade official travelled to Washington on 20th August to advance preparations for bilateral trade talks. They sought to agree on the content and scope of the future trade agreement until November, so that actual negotiations can begin afterwards. Officials from different levels may be visiting the United States in the coming weeks.

Could this be the beginning of a renewed EU-US trade dialogue? Will the two sides manage to iron out the details of their agreement and find a way to implement them? As the devil is in the details, there are key outstanding questions that could make or break the seemingly new rapprochement in transatlantic trade relations.

IPC E-Textiles Committee Vice-Chair Launches “30 in 30” Free Video Series to Encourage Discussion on Key Topics in Smart Textiles

IPC D-70 E-Textiles Committee vice-chair Ben Cooper is running a new video series “30 in 30” through his IoClothes Forums. The forum discussions will showcase 30 videos in 30 days on topics that are critical to the continued growth of the smart textiles industry. A new video will be released every day for 30 consecutive days. If your company is developing smart textiles or has smart textiles on its roadmap, you will want to tune in for this “30 in 30” series.

The videos series launched Monday July 23, so don’t miss another installment. Sign up for the platform is free. This will instantly give you exclusive access to IoClothes Forums and video series.
IoClothes is an online platform dedicated to providing resources needed to build connections across industries that lead to breakthrough innovation in the apparel, footwear and textile industries. Specifically, its focus is enabling the “smart” or e-textile integration into body-worn soft-goods.

Also, Ben is one of our key speakers at IPC E-Textiles 2018. Check out the agenda for this workshop and register today.

Lead Added to EU REACH Candidate List of SVHCs

By Nicolas Robin, IPC Senior Director, Europe

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) added lead metal on its Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs), on 27 June 2018, owing to its properties as a reprotoxic substance.

What does Candidate Listing mean for IPC Members?

Companies may have legal obligations resulting from the inclusion of lead metal in the Candidate List. Candidate Listing means that EU suppliers of articles containing more than 0.1% by weight of lead – including lead-based batteries, architectural lead sheet, engineered lead products and those manufactured with lead containing alloys – must provide information to the recipients which allows for safe use.

Note that in the case of complex objects (i.e. objects made up of more than one article joined or assembled together), the 0.1% threshold applies to each article. As a minimum, the information provided by the article supplier must contain the name of the substance, if present above the
0.1% threshold. The information must be provided in writing and free of charge.

There is also a requirement to notify ECHA. This notification must be submitted by the importer/producer no later than 6 months after the substance was included in the Candidate List. EU and EEA suppliers of substances on the Candidate List must provide their customers with a
safety data sheet (SDS), including relevant exposure scenarios where relevant. Lead producers should already be doing so, but an update is recommended to notify their customers of the inclusion of lead metal in the Candidate list as a Substance of Very High Concern.

The obligation to provide a SDS also applies to mixtures including solders and (pre-fabricated) alloys; however, if the mixture does not meet the criteria for classification as hazardous under CLP, the SDS needs only to be provided at the recipient’s request.

What are the next steps?

The next regulatory step after Candidate Listing is the inclusion of the substances on the so-called Authorization List. Once included on the Authorization List, companies wishing to use the substance will have to apply for application-specific permissions from ECHA.
a) 2019: With lead metal included on the Candidate List in June 2018, it could be included in ECHA’s prioritization exercise in 2019, with a formal recommendation likely to be submitted by ECHA to the European Commission the same year.
b) 2021: If the REACH Committee of Member State representatives agrees to include lead metal in Annex XIV, the Authorization List, the substance could be added as early as 2021; a transitional period would apply, potentially giving rise to a ‘sunset date’ (after which REACH Authorization would be required to use lead metal, unless exemption applied) in 2024.
c) Before 2024: Companies applying for authorization to use lead metal in the EU would need to submit their application at least 18 months before the sunset date to prevent supply chain disruption. Authorization would only be granted if the risks to human health or the environment from the use of metallic lead on its own or in a mixture above the relevant concentration threshold is proven to be adequately controlled or, in the case where adequate control cannot be demonstrated that the financial benefits of continued use outweigh the societal costs of the health and/or environmental impacts and that there are no suitable alternative substances or technologies for the use.

What can IPC and its members do?

IPC will be engaged in an advocacy campaign in partnership with an Eurometaux/ILA cross commodity platform. The goal of this campaign will be to stop the inclusion of lead in the authorization list, or if not possible to advocate for exemptions.

Engage with lead cross commodity platform (September 2018-2019)
1. Map out the use of lead across the industry and assess where the risks areas and potential adverse effects are and in which applications substitutions to lead are possible.
2. If lead metal were to be prioritized for Authorization, a 90-days public consultation will be opened to gather views on transition periods, case studies and examples highlighting where REACH Authorization would lead to regulatory overlap or inconsistency. Data will need to
be collected from IPC membership to develop a socio-economic analysis.

Focus efforts on R&D funding for substitution: Both ECHA and the European Commission are very keen on fostering R&D efforts on substitution, for which the EU offers a specific budget line. IPC will assess the possibility to get funding opportunities for research on leadfree
electronics and has already initiated preliminary contacts with the European Commission service in charge of R&D.

If you have any questions or comments please contact me at NicolasRobin@IPC.org.

U.S. Trade Policy and Your Business: A Webinar for IPC Members

U.S. Trade Policy and Your Business | June 29, 2018 | 11:00 am EDT

As you’ve seen in the news, the Trump Administration has established an aggressive trade agenda, with significant developments occurring almost daily. Many of these developments will impact the electronics industry. For example, an additional 25 percent tariff on more than 800 Chinese products is scheduled to go into effect on July 6. Those tariffs disproportionately target the electronics supply chain. Likewise, new duties and countervailing duties on aluminum will also increase costs for U.S. manufacturers, including the U.S. printed circuit board industry. The IPC Government Relations team is monitoring these developments and weighing in with policy makers.

IPC members, please join us for a U.S. trade policy webinar on Friday, June 29 at 11:00 am EDT featuring trade law practitioners Nova Daly and Tim Brightbill of Wiley Rein LLP. They will discuss both the recent or proposed imposition of new tariffs as well as proposed investment restrictions to be announced later this month.

This free informational webinar is designed to help you make sense of the dizzying pace of trade developments and the impact these developments may have on your business.

IPC members, register now

Automotive Electronics: Past/Present/Future

IPC president and CEO John Mitchell discusses technological advancements in automotive electronics and IPC’s standards development activities that support the automotive industry.

IPC E-Textiles 2018 – Where Standards, Innovation and Collaboration Will Combine to Create the Perfect Speedstorm

IPC D-70 E-Textiles Committee chair Stephanie Rodgers and vice-chair Ben Cooper spotlight just some of the reasons why you need to be at IPC E-Textiles 2018. Stephanie and Ben are members of the IPC E-Textiles 2018 program committee, which has put together a stellar lineup of technologists from the e-textiles space who will provide real-world solutions for merging textiles with electronics.

Stephanie and Ben will also kick of the workshop with two interactive sessions:
• Textiles and Testing 101
• E-Textile Creations Speedstorming – Who Thinks Up This Stuff?

As you can see in their video introduction, IPC E-Textiles 2018 will be a creative, collaborative forum for technologists and innovators to identify solutions, create partnerships and help propel growth for the e-textiles market. And expect a little fun along the way.

Register for IPC E-Textiles 2018
View the full agenda and register today.

Visit the IoClothes Forum
Ben Cooper has created the IoClothes Forum for industry to connect and stay on top of all that’s happening in the world of e-textiles. Visit the forum today to participate in peer group discussions and also to listen to and subscribe to Ben’s podcast, where he interviews thought leaders and innovators.