April 8, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

USTR Releases 2019 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on March 29 released its longstanding annual report on international trade barriers around the world. This year’s National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers highlights barriers in 65 markets around the world, with a major focus on areas such as the European Union (more than 50 pages) as well as markets in Asia (China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Thailand), the Americas (Argentina, Brazil, Canada), Europe (Russia) and Africa (Kenya).

This year’s report – more than 500 pages in length – covers a wide range of priority trade barriers that the National Association of Manufacturers highlighted in its October 2018 comments, including import tariffs, export subsidies and limitations, discriminatory localization policies, lack of intellectual property protection, technical barriers to trade, investment restrictions and digital trade.

This year’s report explicitly lists new areas for trade barriers in the introduction section, including government-tolerated anticompetitive conduct, local content subsidies and shortcomings in trade facilitation.

Contact Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director for federal issues, to learn more.

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Practical Education

Expand career-connected learning across Washington state

By Maud Daudon

If you're a Washington business owner or manager wondering where to find skilled workers, you're not alone. And if you're a Washington parent or high school student, wondering how to get from school to a great job, you're not alone either.

You may also be the solution to each other's problem.

Last summer, the Career Connect Washington initiative convened groups of parents to discuss education and career preparation in Washington state. As part of a 10-year effort, we are learning how to better help students connect to both jobs and advanced education so they will be well positioned to step into the state's job market. Business, labor and education organizations are all stepping up; we need the Legislature to act as well...

Read the full guest column in The Seattle Times
Fiscally Unwise

A Capital Gains Tax Would Not Improve Budget Sustainability

By The Washington Research Council

Although the March revenue forecast increased estimated state revenues for the 2017-19 and 2019-21 biennia, the House Appropriations Committee Chair proposed a new capital gains tax along with his 2019-21 operating budget. The Senate is also considering a capital gains tax, although in this case the proceeds would be used to reduce other taxes rather than to increase the operating budget.

A capital gains tax would be highly volatile. Taxpayers can arrange their affairs to avoid them, and the value of capital gains realized by Washington taxpayers varies significantly year to year. Also, swings in capital gains are much bigger in percentage terms than swings in state sales tax revenue. Volatile taxes require stronger reserves to manage downturns, but the House bill would avoid constitutionally-required transfers to the rainy day fund by directing revenues from the tax to the education legacy trust account.

Additionally, a capital gains tax would certainly be challenged as an unconstitutional income tax. Even if it were eventually found to be constitutional, a court case would likely mean that any revenues would be suspended until after 2019-21. Building the budget around such a tax would be risky at best...

Read the full report from the Washington Research Council
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