November 20 2012 Issue
U.S. Lifts Ban on Certain Imports from Burma
The U.S. State Department on Nov. 16 waived the ban on the importation of Burmese-origin products into the United States. As a result, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the creation of General License 18 in the Burmese Sanctions Regulations, which authorizes certain imports into the United States from Burma. The lifting of the import ban illustrates the administration’s commitment to the easing of economic sanctions on Burma in response to the substantial and significant reforms that the Burmese government has implemented over the course of the past year. The government of Burma, including former political dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, have urged the U.S. government to lift the import ban in order to integrate the country into the global economy and begin to normalize economic relations between Burma and the United States.
Earlier this summer, Secretary of State Clinton announced the administration’s plans to begin easing restrictions on U.S. trade with Burma. The first steps taken were OFAC’s publication of General Licenses 16 and 17, which authorized the export of financial services to, and new investments in, Burma.
Until the most recent actions taken last Friday, Section 537.203 of the Burmese Sanctions Regulations, which implements the 2003 Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act and Executive Order 13310, prohibited imports of Burmese-origin products into the United States. With the announcement of new General License 18, OFAC now authorizes certain imports of products from Burma into the United States. Specifically, products of Burmese origin, as determined under the rules of origin of the U.S. Customs Regulations, may be imported into the United States. However, because of continuing concerns relating to imports of jadeite and rubies from Burma, the prohibitions established under the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008, which amended the BFDA, will remain in effect. Thus, imports of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from Burma, as well as imports of jewelry containing such gems, are still banned from import into the United States. The terms jadeite, rubies and articles of jewelry containing such gems refer to items classified in HTSUS headings 7103 or 7116.
General License 18 also does not authorize U.S. person dealings with blocked persons and entities designated on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals Lists. With the publication of General License 18, OFAC also announced the addition of entities to the SDN Lists, including front companies owned or controlled by Steven Law and Tay Za, cronies of the former regime in Burma.
For more information about the lifting of sanctions on Burma, as well as the requirements and restrictions of other U.S. embargoes and economic sanctions programs, please contact Melissa Miller Proctor, Donna L. Bade or Anu Gavini.
President Obama Discusses TPP, Other Issues with Thai Prime Minister
President Barack Obama on Nov. 18 met with Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to explore ways to achieve a deeper bilateral strategic partnership and enhanced regional cooperation. Among other things, Obama welcomed Thailand’s interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which according to a White House press release “will be subject to Thailand’s undertaking of the necessary domestic procedures.” The two leaders also greeted plans to convene the U.S.-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Joint Council and agreed jointly to promote region-wide trade and investment, sustainable human development, economic opportunity for women and people-to-people connectivity, including through the U.S.-ASEAN Five Year Work Plan. The press release adds that the two sides will discuss Thailand’s eventual participation in the TPP and other high-standard agreements at the TIFA Joint Council meeting.
CPSC to Vote on Rulemaking Processes Involving Bedside Sleepers, Handheld Carriers, Representative Samples
The Consumer Product Safety Commission will hold an open meeting Nov. 28 to determine whether to publish in the Federal Register two notices with proposed safety standards for bedside sleepers and handheld infant carriers. Section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires the CPSC to promulgate consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products. These standards are to be “substantially the same as” applicable voluntary standards or more stringent than the voluntary standard if the Commission concludes that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product. If, as expected, the CPSC moves forward with these rulemaking processes, interested parties will have 75 days from the date of publication of the applicable notices of proposed rulemaking to submit comments.
The CPSC is also scheduled to consider on Nov. 28 a final rule that would amend the regulations on testing and labeling pertaining to product certification. Specifically, the final rule would (1) require the testing of representative samples to ensure continued compliance of children’s products with all applicable children’s product safety rules, and (2) establish a recordkeeping requirement associated with the testing of representative samples. The rule would apply to all products manufactured after Feb. 8, 2013.
WTO Adopts Rulings Against “Retaliatory” Chinese AD/CV Duties
The World Trade Organization on Nov. 16 adopted the panel and Appellate Body reports in a dispute settlement proceeding involving the imposition by China of antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of grain oriented flat-rolled electrical steel from the United States. GOES is a high-tech, high-value magnetic specialty steel used primarily by the power generating industry in transformers, rectifiers, reactors and large electric machines. The United States argued that China used AD and CV measures against this product in a retaliatory manner and that the Appellate Body ruling “carries the potential to strengthen future challenges” to such tactics. China has until Dec. 16 to announce its intentions with respect to implementing the WTO rulings.
Price Fixing Nets Executive $20,000 Fine, Twelve Months in Prison
The Department of Justice reports that an executive at the Ohio subsidiary of a Japanese automotive supplier will pay a $20,000 criminal fine and serve twelve months in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to participating in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids of anti-vibration rubber parts sold in the United States and elsewhere. According to the charge, the executive’s involvement in the conspiracy began as early as October 2005 and continued until at least June 2011. The DOJ argues that he and his co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by agreeing in meetings and discussions to allocate the supply of certain automobile anti-vibration rubber parts, exchange prices, submit noncompetitive bids, and sell the parts at collusive and noncompetitive prices. The DOJ states that this is the first charge in its ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the automobile anti-vibration rubber parts industry. To date, nine companies and 12 executives have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty in the DOJ’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts sector.
Federal Acquisition Regulation Amended to Implement Panama FTA Provisions
The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have issued an interim rule that effective Nov. 20 amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation to implement certain provisions of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. Specifically, the rule waives the applicability of the Buy American statute for certain supply and services contracts (up to a US$202,000 threshold) and certain construction contracts (up to a US$7,777,000 threshold) from Panama. Public comments may be submitted on this interim rule by Jan. 21, 2013.
Additional Time for Parties Wishing to Participate in Trade Mission to South India and Sri Lanka
The International Trade Administration has extended from Nov. 30 to Dec. 21 the deadline for interested parties to submit applications to participate in the Feb. 3-8, 2013 multi-sector trade mission to south India and Sri Lanka. The ITA has also expanded the terms of eligibility to included U.S. trade associations. The ITA states that interested firms and trade associations in the architecture, infrastructure, hospitality, healthcare, and environmental and information technologies sectors, including firms and trade associations that have not already submitted an application, are encouraged to apply.
The trade mission will tour three cities - Chennai, Cochin (Kochi) and Colombo - where participants will receive market briefings and participate in customized meetings with key officials and potential partners. Trade mission participants will also have the option to participate in additional stops in Bangalore and Hyderabad (both in south India) where U.S. officers can arrange meetings with private sector developers/partners and state/local government officials. The ITA indicates that the mission will help participating firms gain market insights, make industry contacts, solidify business strategies and advance specific projects with the goal of increasing U.S. exports of services to India and Sri Lanka. It will include one-on-one business appointments with pre-screened potential buyers, agents, distributors and joint venture partners; meetings with state and local government officials and industry leaders; and networking events.
President’s Export Council to Meet Dec. 6
The President’s Export Council will hold an open meeting Dec. 6 to deliberate on recommendations related to export expansion through streamlined consideration of trade legislation and by building a competitive manufacturing workforce. Interested parties may submit input in connection with this meeting by Nov. 30. First established on Dec. 20, 1973, the President’s Export Council advises the president on matters relating to U.S. export trade and reports on ongoing activities and recommendations for expanding U.S. exports.
CBP: New Commercial Gauger; Comments Sought on Two Information Collections
CBP Approves Commercial Gauger. CBP has announced that effective May 22, 2012, SGS North America of Sulphur, Louisiana, has been approved to gauge petroleum and petroleum products, organic chemicals and vegetable oils for customs purposes. A complete listing of CBP approved gaugers and accredited laboratories is available here.
CBP Seeks Comments on Extension of Two Information Collections. CBP is inviting comments by Jan. 21 on the proposed extension of the following information collections.
Holders of Containers that Enter the U.S. Duty Free. HTSUS item 9801.00.10 provides that articles that were manufactured in the U.S. and exported and returned without having been advanced in value or improved in condition by any process of manufacture may be brought back into the U.S. duty-free. In addition, HTSUS item 9803.00.50 provides for the duty-free entry of substantial holders or containers of foreign manufacture if duty had been paid upon a previous importation pursuant to the provisions of 19 C.F.R. 10.41b. Although an article may be brought back into the U.S. without being subject to duty, a consumption entry must nevertheless be made along with the reason for the article not being subject to duty set forth on the entry. However, an importer who brings in merchandise packed in U.S. manufactured containers or holders or previously duty-paid containers or holders, and does so several times a year involving a great many containers or holders, may mark the container or holder with the HTSUS number in lieu of filing entry papers each time.
In order to comply with 19 CFR 10.41b, the owner of the holder or container is required to place the markings on a metal tag or plate containing the following information: 9801.00.10, HTSUS; the name of the owner; and the serial number assigned by the owner. In the case of serially numbered holders or containers of foreign manufacture for which free clearance under the second provision of HTSUS item 9803.00.50 is claimed, the owner must place the following markings containing the following information: 9803.00.50 HTSUS; the port code numbers of the port of entry; the entry number; the last two digits of the fiscal year of entry covering the importation of the holders and containers on which duty was paid; the name of the owner; and the serial number assigned by the owner.
Application-Permit-Special License Unlading-Lading-Overtime Services. The Application-Permit-Special License Unlading-Lading-Overtime Services (CBP Form 3171) is used by commercial carriers and importers as a request for permission to unlade imported merchandise, baggage or passengers. It is also used to request overtime services from CBP officers in connection with lading or unlading of merchandise or the entry or clearance of a vessel, including the boarding of a vessel for preliminary supplies, ship’s stores, sea stores or equipment not to be reladen. CBP Form 3171 is authorized by 19 USC 1447, 1448, 1449, 1450, 1451, 1452, 1453, 1454, 1455 and 1551. It is provided for 19 CFR 4.10, 4.30, 4.37, 4.39, 4.91, 10.60, 24.16, 122.29, 122.38, 123.8, 146.32 and 146.34.