March 13 2012 issue
The MTB is Coming Back!
The miscellaneous trade bill process, which provides for the suspension or reduction of duties on hundreds of imported products, is expected to begin again soon. ST&R will be presenting a free 30-minute webinar for companies and individuals interested in participating. For more information, see this post from ST&R’s Trade and Politics Blog.
U.S. Claims Progress in Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations
Following the recent 11th round of negotiations in Melbourne, Australia, the U.S. announced March 8 that the nine countries involved have made “strong headway” toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said negotiators “remain on track” to conclude the agreement but did not indicate whether that can be done by the end of 2012 as hoped. The next formal round is scheduled for May but each negotiating group has agreed to an intersessional work program.
A USTR press release states that during the latest talks “notable progress was made across the full range of chapters,” including on trade issues traditionally included in trade agreements as well as cross-cutting issues such as regulatory coherence, better integration of small and medium-sized businesses into international trade, deepening of regional supply linkages between TPP countries, and promoting development. USTR said there were also productive exchanges on emerging trade issues such as addressing trade and investment in innovative products and services and ensuring that state-owned enterprises compete fairly with private companies. Other topics discussed included market access packages in services, government procurement, industrial goods, agricultural products and textiles.
Click here for more information on the scope of the TPP
New Legislation Seeks Partial Rollback of Lacey Act Amendments on Wildlife/Plant Trade
New legislation was introduced in the House and Senate last week that Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., said would “peel back one of the most intrusive overreaches of the federal government that exists in the Lacey Act.” A press release from Broun’s office states that the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures (FOCUS) Act of 2012 (H.R. 4171 and S. 2062) would amend the Lacey Act so that it no longer allows U.S. officials to use foreign laws pertaining to wildlife, fish and plants to “prosecute someone whose activities they find otherwise objectionable.” The bills would also remove the Lacey Act provision allowing a federal prison sentence of up to five years and reduce the maximum fine from $500,000 to $200,000.
Another bill seeking to ease enforcement of the Lacey Act, which was significantly expanded in 2008, was introduced in October 2011. Click here for more information.
Senate Finance to Hold March 15 Hearing on Permanent Normal Trade Relations for Russia
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing March 15 to discuss repealing the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and establishing permanent normal trade relations with respect to Russia. A committee press release explains that Congress has until 30 days after Russia officially approves WTO entry (expected sometime this summer) to pass legislation that repeals Jackson-Vanik and establishes PNTR. If this does not happen, the lower tariffs and other increased market access measures Russia will implement upon its accession will not apply to U.S. businesses, putting them at a disadvantage to competitors in “China, Europe and the more than 150 other WTO member nations.” Interested persons can attend the hearing or view it via webcast at http://finance.senate.gov/hearings.
PNTR for Russia is one of the top trade priorities of the Obama administration this year but is being opposed by some due to concerns on human rights, rule of law and other issues. This topic was addressed at length during a recent Senate Finance hearing on the administration’s 2012 trade policy agenda. http://strtradenews.com/rv/ff00036db81b5d8418adee384d4a8c5b55b0c942/p=4917836
AD Notices: Lined Paper, Solar Cells, Sawblades, Carboxymethylcellulose
Commodity: Lined paper products.
Nature of Notice: Final results of administrative review of AD duty order for the period Sept. 1, 2009, through Aug. 31, 2010.
Details: Dumping margins range from 2.70% to 3.58%. AD duties based on these margins will be assessed on entries of subject merchandise made during the period of review, and AD duty cash deposits at these rates will be required for shipments of subject merchandise entered or withdrawn from warehouse on or after March 13.
Commodity: Crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules.
Nature of Notice: Postponement from March 27 to May 16 of time limit for preliminary AD duty determination.
Commodity: Diamond sawblades and parts thereof.
Nature of Notice: Extension from April 4 to May 14 of time limit for final results of administrative review of AD duty order for the period Jan. 23, 2009, through Oct. 31, 2010.
Commodity: Purified carboxymethylcellulose.
Country: Finland and the Netherlands.
Nature of Notice: Extension from April 1 to July 30 of time limit for preliminary results of administrative review of AD duty orders for the period July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011.
Bovine Import Regulations to be Amended in Line with International Standards
The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced March 9 a proposal to modernize its import regulations for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Under this rule, commodities that are now restricted but pose no risk for BSE could be imported while commodities that present a risk of BSE would continue to be restricted. Though the rule would apply to both live animals and animal products, it will primarily affect the latter.
Under the proposed rule, APHIS would adopt the same criteria and categories that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) uses to identify a country’s BSE risk status: negligible, controlled and undetermined risk. APHIS would base its import policy for a particular country on that country’s risk classification as determined by OIE’s risk evaluation. OIE’s evaluation is based on actions the country has taken to manage the risk of the disease, including instituting a strong ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, strictly controlling imports of animals and animal products from countries of undetermined risk, and conducting appropriate surveillance.
APHIS would consider all countries to have an undetermined BSE risk unless they are officially recognized as either negligible or controlled risk. APHIS would be able to conduct its own assessment when deemed necessary, such as when a country is not yet classified by the OIE for BSE risk and requests that APHIS conduct a risk evaluation using criteria equivalent to that used by OIE.
APHIS adds that the OIE Code provides guidelines for the safe trade of animals and products based on the country’s risk status and the risk presented by the specific item being traded. For example, under the Code, boneless beef is considered to be lower risk and could be safely imported regardless of the BSE status of the exporting country. Live animals, however, present a higher risk and the OIE guidelines recommend that import requirements be applied depending on the BSE risk classification of the exporting country. In the U.S., imported commodities would also need to meet entry requirements for other diseases, where applicable.
APHIS also emphasizes that while this proposed rule would allow for the safe trade of additional bovines and bovine products, control of imports is only one of several interlocking safeguards against BSE. The proposed rule would not change other measures currently in place, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban and a robust BSE surveillance program. The U.S. also maintains a ban on animal materials that have been shown to carry the BSE agent (known as specified risk materials) from the food supply.
Click here for proposed rule
Foreign Regulatory Changes Could Affect Exports of Oral Hygiene Items, Medical Products, Baby Carriages, Vehicles, Foods and Drugs
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the World Trade Organization has been notified of regulatory changes that may affect exports of specific products to the following countries. More details, including regulatory texts, can be accessed here (https://tsapps.nist.gov/notifyus/data/request/new_notifications.cfm). For information on how these restrictions may affect your business, contact ST&R.
Argentina – minimum requirements for import, export, manufacture, packaging, warehousing and registration of oral hygiene products for dental use
Argentina – official list of implantable medical products authorized for marketing and use
Brazil – technical regulation on quality of baby carriages (comments due by May 6)
Brazil – criteria for program of conformity assessment for breast implants (comments due by March 18)
Chile – preliminary draft revised emission standards for light motor vehicles (comments due by April 24)
Kuwait – technical regulations specifying requirements for molasses and high fructose syrup (comments due by May 5)
Malaysia – directive on registration of pharmaceutical products (comments due by May 5)
Malaysia – regulations on importation, manufacture, sale and use of feed and feed additives (comments due by May 5)
Malaysia – amended rules on motor vehicles
Saudi Arabia – regulations on electrical performance measuring and monitoring devices, infant transport incubators, non-laser light source equipment intended for therapeutic, diagnostic, monitoring and cosmetic/aesthetic use, paper sacks, and wall coverings (comments due by May 5)
Environmental Technologies Trade Committee to Meet April 27
The Department of Commerce’s Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting April 27 in Washington, D.C. This meeting will feature a discussion of various issues and policies that affect environmental trade, including the harmonization of global environmental regulations, standards and certification programs; analysis of existing environmental goods and services data sources; trade liberalization negotiations; the development of trade promotion programs; and issues related to innovation in the environmental technology sector.
Click here for DOC notice
USDA Information Collections on Imports of Swine, Pork-Filled Pasta Under Review
The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is inviting public comments through May 14 on the proposed extension of the following information collections.
Importation of Pork-filled Pasta Products. APHIS regulations require that pork-filled pasta products be accompanied by a certificate stating that they have been handled and processed according to the requirements set forth in the regulations. This certificate must be issued and signed by an official of the national government of the region in which the pasta products were processed. In addition, the processing facility where the pork-filled pasta products are produced must maintain original records (to be kept for a minimum of two years) that identify, for each lot of pork used, the date the pork entered the facility, the lot number, the health certificate that accompanied the pork from the slaughter/processing facility to the meat-filled pasta processing facility, and the date the pork either began dry-curing or was cooked. (click here for USDA notice
Importation of Swine and Swine Products from the European Union. APHIS regulations allow, under specified conditions, the importation of pork, pork products and swine from the APHIS-defined European Union classical swine fever region. These requirements necessitate the use of several information collection activities, including certification statements for the importation of pork, pork products and swine and the placing of seals on certain conveyances. (click here for USDA notice http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2012-05999_PI.pdf)