By Caroline Fuller
Trade Rep Requests Panel on Chinese Import Policy
U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab has announced that the United States, the European Union and Canada have formally requested that the World Trade Organization (WTO) establish a panel to discuss China's handling of imported automotive parts. Since March, the United States and China have been formally discussing China's unfair regulations regarding the importation of auto parts. Currently, if import parts in China are used to complete assembly on a vehicle that does not meet Chinese content requirements, a tariff is imposed on the auto parts equal to the
tariff imposed on complete import vehicles. Schwab claims that the tariff discriminates against imported parts.
NHTSA Releases Ruling for Automotive EDRs
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released the final ruling for automotive event data recorders (EDRs). As defined by NHTSA, an EDR is "a device or function in a vehicle that records the vehicle's dynamic, time-series data during the time period just prior to a crash event or during a crash event, intended for retrieval after the crash event. For the purposes of this definition, the event data do not include audio and video data."
This rule will apply to the majority of sedans, SUVs, pickups and vans. However, the ruling does not command the installation of EDRs but only regulates the collection of data if an EDR is voluntarily installed by the manufacturer. Roughly two-thirds of new vehicles come with EDRs already installed, and the rate is expected to reach 85 percent by model year 2010.
Ban on Internet Tax Unlikely to Pass This Year
Despite being approved by two U.S. Senate committees, the permanent ban on state and local taxes for Internet access will not likely pass the Congress this year. Both the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and U.S. Senate Commerce Committee inserted similar moratorium language in their separate bills to repeal a $7 billion excise tax on local phone service. The legislation will probably not move this year and if it does, several senators have offered to add amendments to stop the moratorium provisions. Several temporary bans on Internet access taxes have been active since 1998.
NEA Aims to Boost Student Graduation Rate
The National Education Association (NEA) has revealed a plan to raise the graduation rate of high school students. Reg Weaver, NEA president, has offered a plan that includes boosting technical work force education programs, creating high school graduation centers and decreasing class sizes. Currently, the national graduation rate is 70 percent. The program also includes training teachers to focus on dropout prevention and targeting at-risk students. This plan will require $10 billion in federal funds over the next 10 years.