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Legislative Outlook | Part 1

2020 legislative landscape for manufacturing remains complex

US Capitol

Window and door manufacturers will be dealing with a complex legislative landscape in 2020, according to legislative experts at the Window & Door Manufacturers Association. Beginning the year with partial resolutions for some of the ongoing trade and tariff tensions, WDMA officials offered insight regarding upcoming legislation relevant to the industry in a recent episode of its podcast, Open & Close.

Trade and tariffs

2020 got off to a promising start with the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a new agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. “WDMA is pleased to see Congress approve the USMCA, which is a significant win for American manufacturing,” says Michael O’Brien, WDMA president and CEO. “The North American market is a critical sector for the window, door and skylight industry, and we commend Congress for taking action on a new agreement that is critical to both the manufacturing and construction industries.”

Trade tariffs remain a complex situation for manufacturers. In mid-December 2019, the Trump Administration announced Phase One of a trade agreement with Chinese officials; the U.S. lifted some of the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods and cancelled the 15 percent tariffs scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 15, 2019. “WDMA is encouraged by news of a deal with China and are hopeful that this will bring some needed stability to U.S.-China relations,” says O’Brien.

The current deal, however, does not include relief on all fronts, says O’Brien. Section 301 tariffs, imposed on Chinese goods, are separated into four lists of goods that are, or could be, subject to a 25 percent tariff. Phase One of this new trade deal does not lift tariffs on Lists 1-3, says O’Brien, which contain several products used by window, door and skylight manufacturers. WDMA emphasized its success in advocating for tariff relief for several products important to the industry and says it will continue to be the voice of the industry as the Administration continues to explore tariff policy with China.

The U.S.’s imposition of tariffs on the European Union, and potentially other countries, will be important to monitor in the coming year.

WDMA also criticized the Administration’s decision in early December 2019 to reinstate Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Argentina and Brazil. “This sudden action could result in price increases for window, door and skylight manufacturers and create further uncertainty in the residential and commercial construction markets,” says O’Brien. According to Kevin McKenney, director of government affairs at WDMA, the U.S.’s imposition of tariffs on the European Union, and potentially other countries, will be important to monitor in the coming year.

This is part one of three about fenestration legislation to watch for in 2020. 


Norah Dick

Norah Dick

Norah Dick is assistant editor & researcher for Glass Magazine. Contact her at