Food Imports, Importer Security Filing, Continuous Bonds, IPR Among Topics of Forthcoming Rules
A number of U.S. federal agencies have recently updated their regulatory agendas, which list proposed and final regulations affecting international trade that could be issued within the next year. Highlights of these rules include the following.
Department of Agriculture
Fruit and Vegetable Imports. USDA plans to issue by March a proposed rule providing for approval of all new fruits and vegetables for importation into the U.S. using a notice-based process and removing region- or commodity-specific phytosanitary requirements. USDA states that this rule would enable it to adapt its import requirements more quickly in the event of any changes to a country’s pest or disease status or as a result of new scientific information or treatment options. USDA notes that some countries have viewed its rulemakings for fruits and vegetables that follow completion of pest risk assessments as a non-technical trade barrier and in response may have slowed the approval of U.S. exports into their markets or placed additional restrictions on existing exports from the U.S.
Quarantine and Inspection Fees. A proposed rule now anticipated by April would add new user fee categories and adjust current fees charged for certain agricultural quarantine and inspection services provided in connection with certain commercial vessels, trucks, rail cars and aircraft. This rule would also adjust the fee caps associated with commercial vessels, trucks and railcars.
Electronic Export Application. USDA hopes to develop by May final regulations to amend the meat, poultry and egg product inspection regulations to provide for an electronic export application and certification system, which will be a component of the Public Health Information System. USDA intends to charge users for the use of the system and is establishing a formula for calculating the fee. USDA is also providing establishments that export meat, poultry and egg products with flexibility in the official export inspection marks, devices and certificates. Among other things, USDA notes, use of an automated system is expected to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, fraudulent transactions such as false alterations and reproductions.
Dog Imports. A final rule prohibiting the importation of dogs for resale, research or veterinary treatment unless the dogs are in good health, have all necessary vaccinations and are six months of age or older is anticipated by March.
Firewood from Canada. USDA now anticipates issuing by March an interim final rule requiring firewood of all species imported from Canada, including treated lumber (furniture scraps) sold as kindling, and all spruce logs imported from Nova Scotia to be heat-treated and accompanied by either a certificate of treatment or an attached commercial treatment label.
Meat from Namibia. A proposed rule adding Namibia to the list of countries eligible to export meat products to the U.S. is planned no later than June.
Department of Homeland Security
Importer Security Filing. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has set August as the goal for issuing a rule finalizing the interim importer security filing regulations. CBP has conducted a structured review of the six data elements identified as areas of potential concern for industry and for which it provided certain flexibilities for compliance and is considering whether to maintain those flexibilities.
Surface Transportation Security. The Transportation Security Administration plans to issue no later than August regulations requiring freight railroad carriers, public transportation agencies (including rail mass transit and bus systems), passenger railroad carriers and over-the-road bus operators to provide security training to their frontline employees in the areas of security awareness, operational security, incident prevention and response, and security exercises that test effectiveness of training.
Department of the Treasury
Continuous Bonds. Treasury and CBP plan to publish by June a final rule to reflect the centralization of the continuous bond program at CBP’s Revenue Division. This change would support CBP’s bond program by ensuring an efficient and uniform approach to the approval, maintenance and periodic review of continuous bonds as well as accommodating the use of information technology and modern business practices.
IPR Disclosure. A final rule allowing CBP to disclose to an intellectual property right holder information appearing on imported merchandise or its retail packaging that may comprise information otherwise protected by the Trade Secrets Act, for the purpose of assisting CBP in determining whether the merchandise bears a counterfeit mark, could be issued as early as February.
Environmental Protection Agency
Composite Wood Products. The EPA plans to issue no later than September two final rules designed to ensure that imported or domestically produced composite wood products (hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard) meet the formaldehyde emission standards established by Congress in 2010.