April 16 2012 issue
U.S. Advances Effort to Boost Trade with Middle East and North Africa
Restoring stability and economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa by increasing trade and investment was the topic of a series of meetings in Jordan April 10-12. The talks advanced a multilateral effort under the so-called Deauville Partnership as well as the trade and investment partnership with the region that the U.S. announced in May 2011 (wti/wti.asp?pub=0&story=37082&date=&company=).
Deauville Partnership. The talks marked the launch of the trade, investment and integration pillar of the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition, which includes Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia; five regional partner countries (Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates); and the G-8 countries (the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom). Participants focused on reducing barriers to trade within the region as well as with the G-8, supporting reforms that improve the environment for trade and investment (e.g., increased transparency and open government), specific plans for promoting small and medium-sized enterprises, improving trade facilitation, upgrading infrastructure, adopting good regulatory practices and enhancing the competitiveness of manufacturing and services industries. However, no specific measures were announced.
A joint statement indicates that the MENA countries, stressing the importance of social stability to support their economic reform efforts, asked for financial support for the following priorities: (1) trade and investment initiatives and related economic trade reforms, including support for SMEs; (2) efforts to address poverty and social needs to contribute to trade development, stability and peace in the region; (3) the development of human resources and capacity building with the aim of creating new jobs and generating well skilled and qualified labor to work in investment projects; and (4) structural reforms in transparency and good governance. The other participants made no specific commitments in response to this request and instead said that they will track their efforts and contributions, identify gaps, and discuss and refine priorities with the MENA countries. They also pledged to sponsor investor conferences focused on the most promising growth sectors and to organize commercial and trade missions to underscore investment opportunities.
TIP. Separately, the U.S. issued a statement with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia indicating that concerning initial efforts under their trade and investment partnership will focus on investment, trade facilitation, support for SMEs, and good regulatory practices and transparency. Other topics that have been discussed and will be explored further include services, standards, supply chains, government procurement, innovation and intellectual property, and labor rights and social protection. There was no explicit mention of improving access to and utilization of preference programs such as the Generalized System of Preferences, which was one of the issues that U.S. trade officials said last fall (wti/wti.asp?pub=0&story=38076&date=&company=) could be implemented and deliver results relatively quickly.
The statement emphasizes that the work of this partnership is intended to build upon, not replace, existing obligations and initiatives. There will be periodic meetings to further develop and assess the work of this partnership, and the participants welcomed the possibility of including other Deauville Partnership countries in the future.
New Canadian Minimum Energy Performance Standards Effective as of April 12
The Canada Border Services Agency recently issued a notice announcing the April 12 effective date of Amendment 11 to the Energy Efficiency Regulations, which introduces new minimum energy performance standards and associated reporting and compliance requirements for the following products.
- standby for compact audio products, television and TV combination units (and reporting only of TV on mode) and video products
- external power supplies
- digital TV adaptors
- electric boilers
- single package vertical air-conditioners and heat pumps
Under the Energy Efficiency Regulations, dealers (importers and manufacturers) must ensure that the prescribed product meets the energy efficiency standard specified in the regulations and ensure that it bears an energy efficiency verification mark. Dealers must file an energy efficiency report with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) for the prescribed product before it is imported into Canada or shipped inter-provincially. They are also required to electronically provide the following five data elements when importing regulated products: name of product, model number, brand name (if any), address of the importing dealer, and purpose of the importation (for sale or lease in Canada without modification, for sale or lease after being modified to comply, or for use as a component in any other product to be exported from Canada). Finally, dealers must ensure that an EnerGuide label or lighting product label is affixed to the product if required.
The CBSA states that a list of HS codes for newly-regulated energy-using products is expected to be available this month and that the effective date to submit the required data elements will be announced once that happens.
The notice adds that the Energy Efficiency Regulations continue to apply to regulated products if they are incorporated into or sold with a larger unit or machine even when that unit or machine is not a regulated product (e.g., a laptop with an external power supply or a pump containing a regulated motor). Although data elements required upon importation are mandatory for regulated energy-using products, if dealers provide NRCan with energy efficiency reports and details on both the end-use product and the incorporated regulated energy-using products prior to importation the CBSA will accept the required five data elements for the end-use product only.
Click here for CBSA notice
AD Notices: Pipe Fittings, Thermal Paper, Steel Sinks, Appliance Shelving, Citric Acid
Commodity: Non-malleable cast iron pipe fittings.
Nature of Notice: Initiation and preliminary results of changed circumstances review of AD duty order.
Details: Preliminary intent to revoke order with respect to a particular brake fluid tube connector based on the expression of no interest by the petitioners and the absence of any objection by other domestic interested parties.
Commodity: Lightweight thermal paper.
Nature of Notice: Rescission of administrative review of AD duty order for the period Nov. 1, 2010, through Oct. 31, 2011, with respect to Mitsubishi HiTec PaperFlensburg GmbH, Mitsubishi HiTec Paper Bielefeld GmbH and Mitsubishi International Corp. based on the withdrawal of the requests for review.
Commodity: Drawn stainless steel sinks.
Nature of Notice: Corrected notice of initiation of CV duty investigation.
Details: Clarification that investigation covers stainless steel sinks with multiple drawn bowls and that covered items are classifiable under HTSUS 7324.10.0000.
Commodity: Kitchen appliance shelving and racks.
Nature of Notice: Extension from June 1 to Sept. 29 of time limit for preliminary results of administrative review of AD duty order for the period Sept. 1, 2010, through Aug. 31, 2011.
Commodity: Citric acid and certain citrate salts.
Nature of Notice: Extension from April 30 to May 30 of time limit for preliminary results of administrative review of AD duty order for the period May 1, 2010, through April 30, 2011.
Foreign Regulatory Changes Could Affect Exports of Cigarettes, Breast Implants, Animal Feed, Food, Fuses, Stoves
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. For information on how these restrictions may affect your business, contact ST&R.
Brazil – March 15 publication of technical regulation on maximum levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide permitted in tobacco products
Brazil – March 21 publication of technical regulation on requirements of identity and quality for breast implants
El Salvador – extension until May 8 of comment period for standards on fermented alcoholic beverages and products used in animal feed
Kuwait – draft technical regulation on athlete foods intended to be used for producing energy (comments due by June 12)
Nicaragua – technical standard establishing maximum limit permitted for fluid loss from thawing of whole frozen chickens (proposed date of entry into force of May 22)
Thailand – withdrawal of mandatory status of standards for low-voltage distribution link fuses and electrical stoves (comments due by June 11)
United Arab Emirates – draft technical regulation on energy drinks (comments due by June 12)
Texas Foreign-Trade Zone to Reorganize Under Alternative Site Framework
The Foreign-Trade Zones Board has received an application from the Calhoun-Victoria Foreign Trade Zone Inc., grantee of FTZ 155, requesting authority to reorganize this zone under the alternative site framework. The proposed service area would be Calhoun, Victoria and Matagorda counties in Texas within the Port Lavaca-Point Comfort U.S. Customs and Border Protection port of entry. Because the ASF only pertains to establishing or reorganizing a general-purpose zone, the application would have no impact on FTZ 155’s authorized subzone. Comments on this application are due no later than June 15.
No IPR-Related Import Restrictions on Set-Top Boxes
The International Trade Commission has terminated in its entirety patent infringement investigation 337-TA-761 of certain set-top boxes and hardware and software components. This action is based on the execution of a settlement agreement between the complainant, Microsoft Corporation, and the California-based respondent. As a result of this termination, no import restrictions will be imposed on the covered items.
USDA Allows Pitaya from Central America, May Allow Bananas from the Philippines and Strawberries from Egypt
Fresh Pitaya from Central America Allowed as of May 16. The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued a final rule that, effective May 16, will allow fresh pitaya fruit from Central America to be imported into the continental U.S. This fruit must be produced in accordance with a systems approach that includes requirements for monitoring and oversight by the national plant protection organization of the exporting country, establishment of pest-free places of production, mitigation measures for specified pests, packing and post-harvest procedures, phytosanitary inspection and certification, and shipment in commercial consignments only.
Proposal to Allow Bananas from the Philippines. APHIS is soliciting comments through June 15 on a proposal to allow the importation of fresh bananas from the Philippines into the continental U.S. As a condition of entry, such bananas would have to be produced in accordance with a systems approach that includes requirements for importation of commercial consignments, monitoring of fruit flies to establish low-prevalence places of production, harvesting only of hard green bananas, and inspection for quarantine pests by the national plant protection organization of the Philippines. The bananas would also have to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that they were grown, packed and inspected and found to be free of quarantine pests in accordance with the proposed requirements. APHIS notes that bananas may currently not be imported from the Philippines and that historically bananas have been imported into the U.S. only from Central and South America or moved interstate from Hawaii.
Intent to Allow Strawberries from Egypt. APHIS is accepting comments through June 16 on a pest risk analysis that evaluates the risks associated with the importation into the continental U.S. of fresh strawberry fruit from Egypt. Based on that analysis APHIS believes that the application of one or more of the following phytosanitary measures will be sufficient to mitigate the risks of introducing or disseminating plant pests or noxious weeds via such imports: (1) imported in commercial consignments only, (2) each consignment is inspected by the national plant protection organization of Egypt and accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate that includes an additional declaration stating that the consignment was inspected and found free of specified pests, and (3) the fruit is subject to inspection upon arrival at the U.S. port of entry.
APHIS states that if the overall conclusions of the analysis and its determination of risk remain unchanged following its consideration of any comments received it will authorize the importation of fresh strawberry fruit from Egypt into the continental U.S. subject to the requirements specified in the risk management document.
New Flexibility Will Allow USDA to Increase Sampling of Clementines from Spain
The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued a final rule that, effective May 16, will eliminate the requirement that 200 clementines per consignment intended for export from Spain to the U.S. be sampled by APHIS inspectors. Instead, the regulations will state that inspectors will cut and inspect a sample of clementines determined by APHIS. This change will give APHIS the flexibility to respond to changing risk levels while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of quarantine pests. APHIS anticipates using this flexibility to allow for increases in the number of clementines sampled when conditions warrant but does not believe this would cause significant delays in treating or shipping consignments of fruit. APHIS adds that at some point it could decide to lower the number of clementines sampled as well.
Chemical Weapons Export Information Collections Under Review
The Bureau of Industry and Security is inviting comments through June 15 on information collections associated with the Chemical Weapons Convention provisions of the Export Administration Regulations. Comments should address whether these collections are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the BIS, ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected, the accuracy of the estimate of the hours and cost associated with these collections and ways to minimize that burden.
The CWC prohibits the use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, and direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons. Information collections associated with the implementation of this treaty include prior notifications of any transfer (export/import) of Schedule 1 chemicals to another CWC state party, annual reports on all transfers of Schedule 1 chemicals, and end-use certificates for transfers of Schedule 3 chemicals to non-state parties to ensure that the transferred chemicals are only used for purposes not prohibited under the CWC.