Request for Public Interest Waiver of Buy America Requirements


Printer Friendly Number 53 FR 12223
04-13-88

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Urban Mass Transportation Administration
AGENCY: Urban Mass Transportation Administration, DOT.
[Docket No. 88-A]
53 FR 12223
April 13, 1988

Request for Public Interest Waiver of Buy America Requirements

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

SUMMARY: The Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) is seeking comments on whether a public interest waiver to the "Buy America" requirements should be granted to permit the procurement of bus tires produced at several locations in Europe by Michelin Tire Corporation in order to allow increased competition in the bus tire supply industry.

DATE: Comments must be received by May 13, 1988.

ADDRESS: Comments should be submitted to UMTA Docket No. 88-A, Urban Mass Transportation Administration, Room 9316, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590. All comments and suggestions received will be available for examination at the above address between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Edward J. Gill, Jr., Office of the Chief Counsel, Room 9316, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366-4063.

TEXT: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 165(a) of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (STAA) provides that Federal funds may not be obligated for the purchase of manufactured products unless such products are produced in the United States. Section 165(b)(1) of the STAA provides that the general requirements of section 165(a) may be waived in their application would be inconsistent with the public interest. The implementing regulations at 49 CFR 661.7(b) provide that "[i]n determining whether th[e] exception will be granted, [UMTA] will consider all appropriate factors on a case by case basis."

In the preamble to the "Buy America" regulations published in the Federal Register on September 15, 1983 (48 FR 41462), UMTA indicated that in certain circumstances in which a public interest waiver is ought under section 165(b)(1), the proposed waiver would be published in the Federal Register for comment. Such a procedure is not mandatory before a public interest waiver is granted, but UMTA uses the procedure where the public interest waiver involves important policy considerations or is controversial. It is UMTA's position that these circumstances exist in this case.

On June 24, 1987, UMTA published a Notice (52 FR 23735) seeking comments on whether a "Buy America" waiver, authorized by section 165(b)(1) should be granted to permit the procurement of bus tires produced in Canada in order to allow increased competition in the bus tire supply industry. The waiver had been requested by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

In the June 24, 1987, Notice, UMTA also had indicated that Michelin Tire Corporation produced bus tires in Canada, and that UMTA was also considering granting a "public interest" waiver to Michelin. In its comments to the docket, dated August 12, 1987, Michelin indicated that it does not manufacture bus tires for urban or intra-city use in Canada. Michelin further indicated that it does manufacture such tires in several locations in Europe, and requested that UMTA consider granting a "Buy America" public interest waiver to permit the procurement of these tires. Since this request is substantially different than the original request submitted by Firestone, UMTA is publishing this Notice requesting comments on whether a "public interest" waiver should be granted to permit the procurement of tires produced in Europe by Michelin.

Michelin argues that if the "Buy America" requirements are applied to its bus tires manufactured in various locations in Europe, Michelin is effectively excluded from the U.S. marketplace. Michelin argues that granting a waiver to permit the procurement of Michelin tires produced in Europe would foster competition in the marketplace, and increase the possibility of reduced prices for tires to the recipients of Federal grant funds. In addition, Michelin argues that such a waiver would allow UMTA grant recipients to take advantage of technological advances in the bus tire industry by being able to acquire radial tires as well as the traditional bias-ply tires manufactured in the United States by other companies.

Before determining whether a "public interest" waiver under section 165(b)(1) should be issued, UMTA is seeking public comment from all interested parties. Because the decision to grant or deny the waiver will have nationwide consequences, UMTA seeks to have all available information prior to rendering a decision.

Dated: April 8, 1988.

Edward J. Babbitt,

Chief Counsel.

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