November 21 2012 Issue
President Obama Discusses Trade Issues with ASEAN Leaders as East Asian Countries Commit to Negotiate Broad-Ranging Regional FTA
President Obama on Nov. 19 met with the leaders of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as part of ongoing efforts to deepen economic, diplomatic and security relations. The leaders welcomed the launch of the U.S.-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement (E3), a new framework for economic cooperation designed to expand trade and investment ties between the U.S. and ASEAN. According to a White House fact sheet, E3 identifies specific cooperative activities to facilitate U.S.-ASEAN trade and investment, increase efficiency and competitiveness of trade flows and supply chains throughout ASEAN, and build greater awareness of the commercial opportunities that the growing U.S.-ASEAN economic relationship presents. The fact sheet adds that this effort will lay the groundwork for ASEAN countries to prepare to join high-standard trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement currently under negotiation.
E3 includes the following concrete joint activities:
• negotiating a U.S.-ASEAN trade facilitation agreement, including simplified customs procedures and increased transparency of customs administration;
• developing information and communications technology principles to guide policymakers on issues like cross-border information flows, localization requirements and the role of regulatory bodies;
• developing investment principles addressing the essential elements of investment policies, including market access, non-discrimination, investor protections, transparency and responsible business conduct; and
• carrying out additional work on standards development and practices, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and trade and the environment.
The White House indicates that E3, which will be reinforced by trade facilitation capacity-building assistance provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development, will help ASEAN countries integrate their markets further as they seek to build an ASEAN economic community by 2015.
The new E3 mechanism was unveiled as ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea were getting ready to formally announce their commitment to launch negotiations on a broad-ranging regional free trade agreement. Since ASEAN already has bilateral FTAs in place with the six other participating countries, it would appear that the primary goal of the new negotiations would be to unify those agreements into a single framework.
According to a joint declaration issued on Nov. 20, the participating countries are looking to “achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement establishing an open trade and investment environment in the region to facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth and development.” Negotiations on the so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership would begin in early 2013 with the aim of having a deal in place by the end of 2015. Reportedly, the new regional free trade area would account for a third of global trade and economic output.
U.S. and Colombia Hold First Meeting of Bilateral Free Trade Commission
U.S. and Colombian trade officials met in Washington, D.C. Nov. 19 for the first meeting of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Commission, the body responsible for supervising the implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and resolving any relevant issues. According to a press release issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the two sides agreed that the operation of the FTA has gone smoothly and is already bringing benefits to both countries. For example, U.S. government statistics show that U.S. exports to Colombia from May to September 2012 increased by more than 20% from the same period a year earlier.
The U.S. and Colombia agreed at the meeting to begin considering the potential acceleration of tariff elimination commitments and set time frames for establishing the dispute settlement mechanism and updating the origin rules. The parties also (1) monitored the fulfillment of commitments with a post-entry into force deadline; (2) reviewed the work of the committees on technical barriers to trade, agriculture, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures; and (3) discussed the important engagement that is ongoing between the two governments to ensure the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights continues to be fully implemented.
AD/CV Notices: Pasta, Honey, Certain Steel Products
Commodity: Certain hot-rolled carbon steel flat products.
Nature of Notice: Final results and final no shipments determination in AD administrative review.
Details: The ITA has calculated a 90.83% weighted-average dumping margin for the China-wide entity during the period Nov. 1, 2010 through Oct. 31, 2011. CBP will assess AD duties on all appropriate entries using this rate, which will also be used to determine new AD cash deposit requirements.
Commodity: Certain hot-rolled flat-rolled carbon quality steel products.
Nature of Notice: Initialing of draft revision to AD suspension agreement and request for comment.
Details: The ITA and Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development have initialed a draft revision to the agreement suspending the AD investigation on subject merchandise. The proposed revision will update the reference prices provided under the suspension agreement applicable to Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2012 in order to bring them into alignment with current U.S. prices. Interested parties may submit comments by Nov. 23.
Commodity: Certain pasta.
Nature of Notice: Final results of CV administrative review.
Details: The ITA has calculated a 2.49% net subsidy rate for one producer/exporter combination for the period Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2010. CBP will assess CV duties on all appropriate entries using this rate, which will also be used to determine new CV cash deposit requirements.
Commodity: Certain pasta.
Nature of Notice: Final results of CV administrative review.
Details: The ITA has calculated de minimis net subsidy rates for two producer/exporter combinations for the period Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2010. Accordingly, CBP will not assess CV duties or impose cash deposit requirements on subject entries.
Nature of Notice: Final affirmative injury determination in AD sunset review.
Details: The ITC has determined that revoking the existing AD duty order on subject merchandise would be likely to lead to the continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time. As a result, this order will be renewed for an additional five years.
CBP Announces Seizure of Trademark- and Copyright-Infringing Ski Caps
U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently announced that import specialists at the Port of Atlanta have seized for trademark and copyright violations 870 wool ski caps with a manufacturer’s suggested retail value of $15,500. Discovered during a physical inspection of the merchandise, the ski caps manifested as handicrafts from Ecuador were allegedly made to resemble a range of children’s cartoon characters. This seizure is just one of many enforcement actions undertaken by CBP as part of its ongoing efforts to target, intercept and seize products that violate intellectual property rights.
FTZB Considers Reorganization and Expansion Application by Texas FTZ
The Foreign-Trade Zones Board is seeking input by Jan. 21 (rebuttal comments are due by Feb. 4) on an application by the Liberty County Economic Development Corporation, grantee of FTZ 171, requesting authority to reorganize and expand the zone under the alternative site framework. The ASF is an option for grantees for the establishment or reorganization of general-purpose zones and can permit significantly greater flexibility in the designation of new subzones or “usage-driven” FTZ sites for operators/users located within a grantee’s service area in the context of the FTZB’s standard 2,000-acre activation limit for zone. The grantee’s proposed service area would be the counties of Liberty and Chambers, Texas. If approved, the grantee would be able to serve sites throughout the service area based on companies’ needs for FTZ designation. The proposed service area is within and adjacent to the Houston Customs and Border Protection port of entry. The grantee also proposes to retain its existing sites located in Walker County.
Export Meetings to Focus on Policy, Regulations
The Bureau of Industry and Security has announced the following export-related meetings that will be held in the next few weeks.
The President’s Export Council Subcommittee on Export Administration will hold a partially open meeting Dec. 7 in Washington, D.C. The open session of the meeting will include an update of ongoing export control reform efforts, a briefing by the Small Business Administration, working group updates, and a presentation of papers and comments by the public. The open session will be accessible via teleconference to 25 participants on a first come, first served basis, and requests to participate in this manner are due by Nov. 30. In addition, a limited number of seats will be available at the public session, but reservations are not accepted.
The Regulations and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee, which advises BIS on the implementation of the Export Administration Regulations and provides for continuing review to update the EAR as needed, will hold a partially open meeting Dec. 5 in Washington, D.C. The open session will include an update of regulations, export enforcement efforts and the Automated Export System; working group reports; and a presentation of papers and comments by the public. The open session will be accessible via teleconference to 25 participants on a first come, first served basis, and requests to participate in this manner are due no later than Nov. 28. In addition, a limited number of seats will be available at the public session, but reservations are not accepted.
Amended Maritime Agreement Filed
The Federal Maritime Commission has issued notice that the following amended agreement has been filed. Interested parties may submit comments by Dec. 3.
CMA CGM / Maersk Line Space Charter, Sailing and Cooperative Working Agreement Asia to USEC and PNW-Suez/PNW & Panama Loops – The amendment would provide for the deployment of the seventeenth vessel and revise the space allocations of the parties accordingly. The parties have requested expedited review.