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A recent sanctions penalty case highlights the importance of performing heightened due diligence, particularly with regard to affiliates, subsidiaries, or counter-parties known to do business with countries or persons subject to U.S. sanctions or that otherwise pose high risks due to their geographic location, customers, suppliers, products, or services. The Office of Foreign Assets Control states that this case also represents a “marked change” to the way it will respond to sanctions violations.
The Trump administration is coming under increasing pressure to eliminate its Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products from Canada and Mexico in order to secure approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.
Despite a few positive steps, Russia is continuing to promulgate protectionist economic policies and disregard the general principles of the World Trade Organization, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s annual report on Russia’s compliance with its WTO accession commitments. The report pledges that the U.S. will investigate and use all appropriate means to resolve any actions inconsistent with Russia’s WTO commitments to keep that market open to U.S. exports.
The U.S. is taking a more aggressive approach to ensure that China, not the U.S., bears the costs of its non-market economic system, according to a report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. At the same time, the U.S. will encourage China to make fundamental structural changes to its approach to the economy and trade.
After recent talks between U.S. and Chinese officials, President Trump said he currently has no plans to push back an increase in tariffs on imports from China. Unless the two sides reach an agreement on issues such as forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, and cyber theft, the U.S. is expected to increase from 10 percent to 25 percent its additional tariff on $200 billion worth of goods from China.
A recent enforcement action by the Office of Foreign Assets Control highlights the risks for companies that do not conduct full-spectrum supply chain due diligence when sourcing products from overseas, particularly regions in which comprehensively sanctioned countries or regions are known to export goods. OFAC is therefore encouraging companies to develop, implement, and maintain a risk-based approach to sanctions compliance and to implement processes and procedures to identify and mitigate areas of risks.
The European Union reports that it has made progress on a number of trade-related issues in talks with the U.S. since last summer but warns that additional movement would be jeopardized if the U.S. increases tariffs on imports of automobiles and auto parts from the EU. A decision on that issue could come as early as mid-February.
Changes to existing law are necessary to bring the U.S. into compliance with a number of obligations under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, according to a recent document from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Legislation to implement the USMCA could be introduced and considered by Congress within the next few months, although the recent federal government shutdown and the prospect of another shutdown beginning in February could further delay such action.
The Trump administration has received nearly 13,000 requests for exclusions from the additional tariffs it has imposed on imports from China, according to information made available by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Some have been granted and more have been denied but most are still at various stages of review.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is continuing to retire old Automated Commercial Environment reports and launch new ones, providing a wealth of information that importers can use to boost compliance and duty savings efforts.
Classifying clothes hangers separately from apparel can offer cost savings but importers should use caution in utilizing this method.
Importers of food for humans or animals face several upcoming compliance dates under the Food and Drug Administration’s foreign supplier verification program. Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg is conducting a webinar Jan. 29 on how importers can prepare for and manage FDA inspections under this program – click here for more information or to register.
Goods made with hardwood plywood and imported from China may be hit with antidumping and countervailing duties as a result of increased scrutiny by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has suspended its planned enforcement of a regulatory change concerning the importer security filing importer due to a lapse in funding. CBP had planned to begin issuing liquidated damages claims for violations of the so-called ISF-5 requirements as of Jan. 21 but now states that it will issue additional guidance following the end of the current federal government shutdown.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will delay releasing a revised CBP Form 5106 (see attached), which will be renamed the Create/Update Importer Identity Form, due to the ongoing government shutdown. The release had been scheduled for Feb. 9 and CBP officials say a new date will be established once the government reopens.
EU member states have greenlighted a proposal by the European Commission to impose definitive safeguard measures on steel imports, which will replace the provisional measures in place since July 2018.
The Trump administration will not initiate a process for excluding goods from the Section 301 additional tariff on $200 billion worth of imports from China until at least March, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. In addition, Lighthizer said, those goods cannot be exempted from the tariff by being entered into a foreign-trade zone.
The use of the first sale rule has increased dramatically over the past several months as companies seek to lessen the impact of the additional Section 301 tariffs on imports from China. At the same time, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is scrutinizing imports that use this valuation methodology more closely as part of a broader increase in enforcement efforts. Importers should therefore review transactions taking advantage of the first sale rule to ensure they are consistent with CBP requirements.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has announced the first batch of products that will be excluded from the additional 25 percent duty imposed under Section 301 on some $34 billion worth of imports from China. These product exclusions will be retroactive to July 6, 2018, and remain in place through Dec. 27, 2019. USTR notes that it will continue to issue decisions on pending exclusion requests on a periodic basis.
The Senate Finance Committee will review the statutory authority President Trump has used to hike tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products under the chairmanship of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley laid out his plans amid reports that Trump could soon use that authority to increase import duties on automobiles and auto parts.