Trying to sort out what issues manufacturers will face given the new 110th Congress, Boston-based AMR Research offered its take. At a conference earlier this fall, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told AMR he predicts the new Congress will ease up on some of the internal control requirements of SOX. Greenspan pointed to Section 404, the one that requires companies to report out on the strength of their financial controls and remedies to correct problems, as an example of an area of the law that needed revamping.
Looking at the security of our ports, AMR Research points out that "Democrats have been big proponents and sponsors of the Safe Ports Act of 2006 and the Secure Freight Initiative it spawned," and expects that given the Democrats promise to quickly implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, they will make "tough budget tradeoffs to fund current and future programs.
This Congress might ease up on the issuing of H-1B visas, says AMR Research, due to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi's tie to the high-tech area of San Francisco. This past Congress decreased the number of these types of visas issued from 200,000 several years ago to just 65,000 last year.
Environmental issues will take center stage as this Congress will likely put caps on carbon dioxide emissions much like the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Acid Rain Program, which dramatically reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
"Democratic leaders will almost certainly increase oversight of new trade agreements, factoring in labor and environmental standards as well as economic considerations. Watch for a distinction between "free trade" and "fair trade," explains AMR.
This Congress will also look very closely at trade with China. A 27.5% tariff on all goods from China if China doesn't revalue its currency has the support of both sides of the aisle says AMR.
Look for increased protection of intellectual property rights along with stricter compliance with World Trade Organization rules.
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