Trade and Tariffs
On the trade front, AHRI has actively opposed tariffs on products, components, and raw materials. AHRI has done this with relevant Executive Branch agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as with congressional committee staff. We have informed members of developments in this arena via timely (30+) International Alerts, while the online members-only Tariff Tracker provides a running context for trade developments. AHRI has joined other industry groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in calling for an end to the tariffs.
The intersection of energy efficiency and climate change has spawned a growing global energy efficiency regulatory trend. Typically classified as minimum energy performance standards (MEPS), these regulations can thwart market access. In 2018, for example, AHRI identified over 30 countries having HVACR and water heater MEPS versus 13 in 2013. This list is growing and poses a threat to members’ entry into foreign markets. This occurs when MEPS regulations fail to recognize AHRI standards and certification programs, thus requiring AHRI Certified products to be tested again for compliance. In 2019, AHRI filed comments with eleven governments (including Mexico), advocating for AHRI programs , and we currently are involved in further discussions in the Middle East/North Africa region. Foreign regulators, often unfamiliar with AHRI’s programs, default to citing on ISO standards in their MEPS because they incorrectly believe that ISO standards are the only international standards when in fact AHRI standards comply with the World Trade Organization’s definition of an international standard.
AHRI provides members with the weekly International Regulatory Information Service (IRIS), which lists foreign regulatory and policy activity. AHRI culls the weekly WTO report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and highlights industry specific foreign regulations for AHRI and member comment.
Success in transitioning to new refrigerants requires a trained workforce in both Article 2 and Article 5 countries. AHRI and the United Nations Environment Program are in the second year of a technician-focused Refrigerant Driving License (RDL) project that will define a training program. The proposed curriculum has been pilot tested, with classes for a cadre of trainers in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Rwanda, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Grenada. Pilot testing for non-trainers will continue into early 2020.
Maintaining good and productive relations with global HVACR and water heating associations continues to be an AHRI priority. On August 7, AHRI hosted the International Council of Air-Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating Manufacturers Associations (ICARHMA) annual meeting in Boston. AHRI is the founder and Secretariat of ICARHMA, whose eleven member associations represent manufacturers that produce 90 percent of the world’s heating, cooling, and water heating equipment. The meeting focused on significant current and future issues in the changing global environment, and featured three distinguished contributors: Mekala Krishnan, a senior fellow who leads the McKinsey Global Institute’s research program on global economic development; former U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy;; and Connor Lokar, an economist with ITR Economics. ICARHMA members discussed several important global trends and resulting priorities, including new research on the safe use of alternative refrigerants, the important relationship between energy efficiency and type of refrigerant used in high ambient temperature areas, a turbulent global environment highlighted by trade and tariff issues, and each member’s top industry issues. AHRI’s top industry issues included ensuring a safe refrigerant transition, energy efficiency, and trade and tariffs.