Contratos gubernamentales locales y leyes de compra estadounidense

by Bilzin Sumberg

Bilzin Sumberg

En abril de 2018, el presidente Trump emitió un decreto ejecutivo que pide controles más estrictos de las leyes federales de “Compra Estadounidense” (Buy American). Estas leyes han estado en los libros por varias décadas y, generalmente, requieren que el gobierno federal compre bienes y materiales fabricados en los Estados Unidos; algunas de ellas también se aplican a ciertas compras de gobiernos locales y estatales. Específicamente, la Ley Compra Estadounidense (Buy American Act) se aplica a la compra de transporte público y requiere que todo el hierro, el acero y los productos fabricados provengan de los Estados Unidos, y que el 60 % de los componentes del material rodante (autobuses y tranvías) también provengan de los Estados Unidos. El decreto ejecutivo en parte ordenó a las agencias federales a desarrollar políticas que fortalezcan la aplicación de las leyes de Compra Estadounidense y, de acuerdo con los plazos del decreto, estas nuevas políticas deberían entrar en vigencia pronto.

En un mundo de cadenas globales de suministro, cumplir con las leyes de Compra Estadounidense se ha vuelto cada vez más complicado. Por ejemplo, hemos representado a AnsaldoBreda, un fabricante de tranvías italiano (ahora Hitachi Rail), en su exitosa puja por la flota de remplazo del sistema Metrorail del condado de Miami-Dade. Para ese proyecto en particular, se necesitó (y se obtuvo) una aprobación especial para construir los vehículos en los Estados Unidos, enviarlos a Italia para una prueba inicial y luego traerlos de vuelta a Miami para una prueba final. Afortunadamente, ese proyecto avanzó con éxito, y el primer tren Hitachi nuevo entró en funcionamiento en el condado de Miami-Dade apenas la semana pasada.

Parece ser que los requisitos de la Ley Compra Estadounidense pronto se volverán más estrictos, lo que podría afectar a los planes de ingeniería y producción para nuevos proyectos de tránsito. Uno de los cambios telegrafiados por el decreto ejecutivo es una reducción (o más bien eliminación) de las exenciones otorgadas por el gobierno federal. En el pasado, la Administración Federal de Transporte autorizaba compras limitadas en el extranjero mediante la exención de ciertos requisitos de la ley. Un ejemplo es permitirle a un proveedor de tranvías construir los vehículos “piloto” iniciales en el extranjero y, luego, una vez que los vehículos han sido perfeccionados y probados, construir el resto en los Estados Unidos. Mientras que la administración de Obama era moderada con las exenciones en comparación con la administración de Bush, parece ser que la administración de Trump es aún más renuente a otorgar exenciones a la Ley Compra Estadounidense en el futuro. Incluso antes de que se anuncien los cambios regulatorios, es necesario tener en cuenta el aparente cambio en la política de exenciones cuando se desarrolla una propuesta de contratos de tránsito financiados por la Administración Federal de Transporte (Federal Transit Agency, FTA).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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